UN buys Euronav VLCC as part of a wider salvage operation to remove more than one million barrels of oil from decaying supertanker off Yemen’s Red Sea coast. The FSO Safer, located in Yemen, has not been maintained since 2015 because of the conflict in the area.

The damaged vessel, the 406,639 deadweight FSO Safer is one of the largest vessels ever built, and for more than thirty years has been positioned off the Yemeni coast. It has decayed to the point where there is an imminent risk it could explode or break apart, which would have disastrous effects on the region.

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. In accordance with the UN “it is expected to arrive in early May 2023 for the operation.”

The vessel will replace the FSO Safer and will stay there and Euronav will help operate the vessel including after the transfer of the oil for several months afterwards.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed an agreement with Euronav to secure the purchase of the VLCC, as part of the UN-coordinated operation, to remove more than one million barrels of oil, as a major spill would devastate fishing communities on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, likely wiping out 200,000 livelihoods instantly. It would also result in the closure of the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef – which are essential to bring food, fuel and lifesaving supplies into Yemen.

The vessel represents an impending environmental disaster prone to either break up or explosion. The United Nations has put together a co-ordinated package of salvage operation, management of the FSO Safer, and safe handling of the stored crude, and has raised as of 7th of March $95 million, of which $75 million has been received. The total budget for the emergency phase of the project is $129 million, and funding still urgently needed to complete safe removal of oil, as UN says today.

Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav said: “We are very proud to work with the UN in this delicate and sensitive operation in providing an appropriate vessel but also necessary expertise from our operational staff to support the salvage procedure. This critical operation requires dedicated support from Euronav for at least nine months and reflects our wider sustainability and environmental credentials. The Ocean is our environment, let’s protect it”.