100+ Underwriters Help UNDP Insure ‘Time Bomb’ FSO Safer Operation

Photo credit: UNDP

A United Nations oil tanker arrived in Yemen to begin the risky operation of pumping over a million barrels of crude oil from the decaying FSO Safer supertanker in danger of exploding and causing an environmental disaster.

The clock is ticking and the oil aboard the Safer will be pumped out in a ship-to-ship transfer that is expected to take about two weeks to complete.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Bin Mubarak tweeted that the Nautica has arrived in Hodeidah, the fourth-largest city in Yemen and its principal port on the Red Sea, in preparation for unloading more than a million barrels of crude oil from the decaying tanker.

The UN-led project to prevent a massive oil spill from the decaying FSO Safer supertanker off Yemen’s Red Sea coast took a major step forward when the replacement vessel Nautica sailed from Djibouti en route to the Safer site.

The Safer, which holds an estimated 1 million barrels of oil, has been at risk of breaking up or exploding for years. A major spill from the vessel would result in an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

The marine salvage company SMIT, a subsidiary of Boskalis, stabilized the Safer since arriving at the site on 30 May. The UN Development Programme (UNDP), which contracted SMIT, is implementing the operation to remove the oil.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said: “Removing the threat the Safer poses will be a huge achievement for the many people who have worked tirelessly on this complex and difficult project over months and years to bring us to this point.”

David Gressly, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, who led UN system-wide efforts on the Safer since September 2021, commented: “The ship-to-ship transfer of the oil is an important milestone, but not the end of the operation. The next critical step is the installation of a CALM buoy to which the replacement vessel will be safely moored.”