Kabari99-The supertanker, with more than a million barrels of oil, has been deteriorating since 2015, leading to fears of a catastrophic spill.
The United Nations has started pumping oil from a rotting ship moored loose to Yemen’s Red Sea coast, to prevent a potential spill and environmental disaster, UN officials say.
FSO Safer a floating storage and offloading tanker (FSO)
that holds more than 1.14 million barrels of oil – has been at risk of breaking or exploding for years due to corrosion and lack of maintenance since the Saudi-led coalition intervened. Yemen War in 2015.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who control the coastal area of Yemen where Safer is moored,
had previously prevented rescue operations from taking place, but finally agreed in March to allow the oil to be unloaded.
Oil offshore Safer therefore will now move to a replacement ship, called Yemen,
in a ship-to-ship transfer that is expected to last 19 days, said the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
the humanitarian agency responsible for implementing the program. operation.
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“With no one else willing or able to undertake this task,
the United Nations stepped up and took the risk to carry out this incredibly complex operation,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday.
“The ship-to-ship transfer of oil that has started today is a critical next step in avoiding an environmental and humanitarian disaster on a colossal scale,” he added.
The operation, so early and of its kind,
was risky but the potential for oil leaks remaining in damaged tankers bought by the Yemeni government in the 1980s is even more so.
Observers have worried for years that the Safer could crack or explode.
The next oil spill will potentially wipe out one of the world’s great marine ecosystems.
After the oil will decrease, the delivery and installation of the catenary anchor leg mooring (CALM) buoy will take place, said the UN.
The buoys will then be secured to the seabed, which will in turn be used to secure a replacement vessel,
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a process to be completed by September, the international agency said.
The 47year old supertanker has been abandoned and
out of service since civil war broke out in Yemen eight years ago.
The Safer is anchored near the Ras Isa oil terminal controlled
by Yemen’s Houthi movement, which in 2015 seized most of the country.
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Mohammed Mudawi of UNDP Yemen told Al Jazeera
in mid-July that the ship had not been properly maintained because it was located in an area filled with mines.
The UN agency team has also been working to prevent the buildup of flammable gas.
“We were worried that it could explode because of the gas,” said Mudawi.
According to the UN, a large spill would destroy corals, mangroves and other marine life, exposing millions of people to highly polluted air,
destroying fishing communities forcing nearby ports to close; and disrupt shipping through the Suez Canal.
Cleanup costs alone are estimated at $20 billion.
The spill from Safer has the potential to have a bigger impact than one of history’s biggest oil spills,
the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, because Safer carried four times as much oil, according to the United Nations.
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