The UN declared this Friday that urgently needs 80 million dollars to download around a million barrels of oil found on board the oil tanker “Safer”abandoned for years off the coast of Yemen and threatening to cause an “imminent” disaster.
After years of negotiations, the United Nations closed an agreement in recent months with the Yemeni government and with the Houthi rebels who control part of the country to withdraw the crude before the significant risk of a spillgiven the poor condition of the ship, built 45 years ago.
That danger was confirmed by a mission sent to the area by the UN last month, which warned that the “Safer” is rapidly deteriorating.
“There is an imminent risk of a huge amount of oil spilling due to leaks or an explosion,” David Gressly, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, told reporters today.
Gressly urged countries around the world to provide funds as soon as possible to allow the complicated operation to unload the oil to another vessel start without delay in early June.
The cost estimated by the UN is 80 million dollars, which includes the unloading operation, the rental of a large oil tanker to store the barrels and the crew and maintenance for 18 months, a period during which the transfer of the raw to a final destination.
Gressly said he will visit Gulf capitals next week to discuss the plan and seek support, while the Dutch government will soon host a donor conference to raise funds.
As he warned, delaying the start of the works would mean keeping an active “clockmaking bomb” that threatens to unleash an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.
The UN warns that a spill can be devastating for Yemeni populations that depend on fishing in this area and lead to the temporary closure of essential ports for the entry of food and humanitarian aid into the country.
The disaster could also complicate the maritime traffic in a key area and leave enormous environmental damage in several countries.
The cost of cleaning up this spill is estimated at about 20,000 million dollarsaccording to the UN, which recalls that the amount of oil on board the “Safer” is four times greater than that spilled by the tanker “Exxon Valdez” in 1989, which caused one of the largest catastrophes of its kind in Alaska.
The “Safer”, built in Japan in the seventies and sold to the Yemeni government in 1987 to be used as a tanker, is anchored at a fixed point 7 kilometers from the port of Ras Issa and had the function of storing crude oil for export .
But since the civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014, turned into an international conflict a year later by the intervention of the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the tanker has remained abandoned and it is feared that the crude oil could transform into flammable gas and explode. , or the hull could break and spill the oil into the sea.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.