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UN to start operation to offload decaying oil tanker off Yemen

May 30, 2023 at 9:30 pm

The UN has purchased a large vessel to remove oil from a decaying tanker on the coast of Yemen [@UNDP/Twitter]

The United Nations will start the ”preparatory phase” this week to offload 1.1 million barrels of oil from a decaying tanker off the coast of war-torn Yemen to prevent a catastrophic spill, according to an official, Anadolu Agency reports.

A UN vessel, “Ndeavor”, arrived at the port of Hudaydah on Yemen’s west coast Tuesday, UN coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, told reporters in New York via video-conference.

Gressly said a UN team will examine the entire vessel and begin to take safety precautions Wednesday.

He said the team will initiate the actual transfer of oil in around 210 days to two weeks.

”If all goes according to plan, somewhere late June, early July, we might be in a position to say that that critical phase of the ship-to-ship transfer could be completed,’ said Achim Steiner, administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP).

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The FSO Safer oil tanker is a floating storage and off-loading unit, 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of the port of Hudaydah. It is used for storing and exporting oil coming from oilfields in the oil-rich central province of Marib.

Now under the control of Houthi rebels, the tanker has not undergone maintenance since 2015 and more than 1 million barrels of crude oil have been sitting in the decaying vessel in the Red Sea.

A major spill would devastate fishing communities on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, likely instantly wiping out 200,000 livelihoods, according to the UNDP.

The cost of a cleanup of a potential oil spill alone is estimated at $20 billion.

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