UN to help move 1 million barrels of oil off tanker stranded near Yemen.

The United Nations has agreed to assist in mitigating the potential environmental crisis.

shutterstock 2272775815 Large
Achim Steiner speaks during hybrid briefing with David Gressly who joined virtually on efforts to remove oil from the FSO Safer oil tanker at UN Headquarters in New York on March 9, 2023

The UN announced that it had finalised a deal to acquire a ship capable of transferring over a million barrels of crude from a deteriorating tanker floating near the shores of Yemen, which is amid an armed conflict.

This step will set the stage for further action to clear away the cargo and avert the risk of inducing a disastrous ecological impact due to an oil leak or blast.

The double-hulled carrier, located after a strenuous search in an already saturated market, will be set to sail soon to Yemen’s Red Sea and park alongside the FSO Safer.

The Safer, constructed in Japan in the 70s, was purchased by the Yemeni government during the 80s to stockpile up to 3 million barrels of oil from the Marib region in Yemen’s east.

The impoverished nation of the Arab Peninsula has been in the throes of civil war for years.

In 2014, a civil war broke out in Yemen when the Houthi rebels supported by Iran took control of Sanaa and a large part of the country’s northern region. This caused the government to flee southward and then into Saudi Arabia.

The following year, a Saudi-led coalition entered the war against the Houthis to restore the internationally-recognised government.

Since 2015, no annual maintenance has been carried out on the 360-metre-long ship with 34 storage tanks, and aside from 10 people, most crew members have been taken off the vessel.

Internal documents obtained by The Associated Press in 2020 revealed that seawater had infiltrated Safer’s engine compartment, resulting in damage to pipes and a heightened risk of sinking. Furthermore, corrosion has damaged parts of the vessel and its inert gas, used to prevent combustible gases from accumulating, has leaked out.

Experts have declared that the damage to the vessel is irreparable, thus making it impossible to restore.

The UN has warned that a potential environmental disaster could happen if this situation is not averted. The spill’s size could surpass the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989, with dire consequences four times higher.

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