UN to start emptying decaying tanker in Yemen’s Red Sea next week

Cairo, July 15 (EFE).- The transfer of nearly one million barrels of oil from FSO Safer supertanker, stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea coast since 1988, will begin “next week,” the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator David Gressly said on Saturday.

Gressly said the replacement vessel Nautica has sailed from Djibouti en route to the Safer site “to take the oil from the decaying supertanker.”

“I am excited to be aboard and for the start of the oil transfer next week,” he said.

Earlier, the UN said the operation could proceed with a risk “within an acceptable range” without causing an environmental disaster, since the vessel is “fully stabilized,” even as the transfer presents “a residual risk.”

The UN began on May 30 the “challenging operation” to remove more than one million barrels of oil from the tanker moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast threatens a humanitarian and environmental disaster.

The salvage support vessel Ndeavor, contracted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), arrived onsite to undertake the oil transfer to “Nautica”.

The replacement ship will moor next to the “Safer” to begin the complete transfer of crude oil, which will take about two weeks.

The UNDP, which is managing the operation, has estimated that the current phase will cost about $142 million, of which it still needs to raise about $14 million immediately.

According to UN estimates, a “Safer” spill could be much worse than the “Exxon Valdez” spill in 1989, which caused one of the world’s biggest catastrophes in Alaska.

The UN fears that a major spill would devastate fishing communities on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, likely wiping out 200,000 livelihoods instantly.

It could also lead to the temporary closure of ports essential for shipping food and humanitarian aid to the conflict-ravaged country. EFE


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