An official in the Houthi-led government based in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, has announced that a maintenance team has been dispatched to an aging oil tanker which is anchored offshore over concerns that it could lead to an oil leak into the Red Sea.
Although Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi of the Supreme Political Council, an executive body in the National Salvation Government (NSG), made the announcement on Wednesday, the team may be unable to prevent the FSO Safer from leaking. The Saudi-led coalition is blocking access to the necessary equipment, explained Al-Houthi.
"The Republic of Yemen has done its best, despite lack of necessary resources," the official added. He thanked the team and the local authorities for "responsible care" and said that the coalition is responsible for the facility and "every crime".
The UN-recognised government-in-exile has blamed the Houthi authorities for any leaks from the tanker because it's moored in territory under their control. However, last month, Al-Houthi refused to accept blame and insisted that it is the coalition which should be held accountable as it controls the waters near the vessel and has also prevented the Houthis from selling the oil which is still on board.
According to the Yemen-based website Holm Akhdar, an oil spill from the Safer could destroy the livelihoods of 126,000 fishermen. An estimated 850,000 tons of fish in the Red Sea, the Bab El-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden could perish.
The decaying "floating storage and offloading" vessel has been stationed off the besieged Al-Hudaydah province since 1988, specifically near the port of Ras Isa. The 1 million barrels of crude oil on board are said to be worth an estimated $40 million at today's prices.