On 30th May, the United Nations started an operation to remove more than 1 million barrels of oil from the FSO Safer, which has been moored about nine kilometers off Yemen’s Ras Isa peninsula since 1988 and could explode or break up at any time.

In particular, the Ndeavor’s crew of experts will inspect the Safer and undertake all necessary work to make it secure for the transfer of oil to the replacement tanker Nautica, which is standing by in Djibouti to travel to the site next month and receive the oil.

The FSO SAFER is an offshore floating storage vessel used to export crude oil, that has been in place since the 1980s and is at risk of breaking apart unleashing its cargo of oil across the Red Sea.

As informed, the start of the operation on the water comes after almost two years of political groundwork, fundraising and project development, led by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly.


Read More: Another $7.5m raised for FSO Safer, yet funding falls short


In December 2021, United Nations senior management endorsed the plan to prevent a spill by transferring the oil to a safe vessel and install long-term replacement capacity for the Safer, and asked UNDP to implement it, contingent on funding. Drawing on expertise from the UN System as well as external contractors, partners and experts, the UN has worked round the clock to prepare for this unprecedented effort.

With the marine salvage support vessel Ndeavor onsite, the project can now begin in earnest. This marks the culmination of tremendous amounts of work and coordination among UN agencies, maritime lawyers, oil spill experts and many more. This is a proud moment for the United Nations and for the UN Development Programme as the implementing partner for the emergency phase of the project to remove the oil.

Even after the oil transfer averts the worst-case scenario of a spill of 1 million barrels, the decaying Safer will still hold a considerable amount of residual oil and pose a significant environmental threat to the Red Sea.


Read More: FSO SAFER: Urgent call for equipment for oil spill contingency plan


Hayel Saeed Anam (HSA) Group, Yemen’s largest private company, was the first company to contribute to the UN’s campaign, donating US$1.2m in August 2022, and has called on the international private sector – particularly the oil sector – to act to ensure this devastating crisis is averted.

Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam, Managing Director of HSA Group – Yemen region, said ”HSA Group welcomes the commencement of the FSO Safer salvage operation – which will prevent a major humanitarian, economic, and ecological disaster in the Red Sea.”

"A spill on the scale predicted by the UN would cost an estimated $20 billion to clean up and have an unprecedented impact on Yemen",
Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam further commented, adding that with the commencement of this operation, they aspire to encourage other private sector organisations across the world to contribute to the UN’s response.

"Preventing a spill now and save tens of billions of dollars in the future".

Source: Safety4sea


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Issue 84 of Robban Assafina

(March/ April 2023)


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