On the 10th of March, Euronav signed an agreement with UN to sell a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) as part of a wider salvage operation for the FSO Safer vessel in Yemen.
Euronav will provide a suitable vessel that will go to drydock for necessary modifications and regular maintenance before sailing to the FSO Safer moored about 8 km off Yemen’s Ras Isa peninsula, for the operation to remove and store the oil. They will try to offload more than 1.14m barrels of oil that have been sitting in the decrepit cargo ship, the 376-metre-long vessel.
What is the FSO SAFER?
The FSO SAFER is an offshore floating storage vessel, one of the largest ever built, used to export crude oil, that has been in place since the 1980s
The vessel is at risk of breaking apart unleashing its cargo of oil across the Red Sea.
Since 2015 it has been abandoned without power or maintenance due to the war in Yemen.
FSO SAFER’s engines have not been started for several years, and the structure has been exposed to humidity and corrosion with little or no maintenance.
United Nations and IMO’s past efforts on the matter:
Last March, the UN and Yemen’s Houthi rebels signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at resolving the environmental threat by allowing the UN to transfer about 1.1m barrels of oil from the vessel.
The first workshop was held in Sana in February, and the second set of workshops was held in Aden in March, both of which focused on contingency planning and shoreline response management. The workshops were organized by UNDP Yemen and funded by the IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Program, with technical assistance from IMO.
The goal of these workshops was to address the capacity to respond to an FSO SAFER spill. They aided in the clarification of equipment and resource requirements, the development of response strategies, and the discussion of waste management. The information gathered was used to identify additional training needs for the respective authorities and will allow the country’s national oil spill contingency plan to be updated.
The UN set the goal of raising the required $80 million through an international donor conference last spring. David Gressly, the UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, devised the plan. Both the Saudi-backed and Houthi-backed governments supported the action. International Marine Organization (IMO) followed suit set out a campaign to educate on the situation and raise funds.
IMO Secretary-General gives full support to the @UN plan to avert a disaster from FSO SAFER: https://t.co/qv1wxHGWwJ #FSOSafer #Yemen pic.twitter.com/o2wMFgTpys
— IMO (@IMOHQ) May 11, 2022
Last September, the UN announced that more than $75 million has been pledged to carry out the vital operation, enabling it to begin.
In January, the UN released an update on the situation stating that the emergency operation cannot begin until it is certain that a safe crude carrier will be in place to take on the oil.
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