A dilapidated oil tanker anchored off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea risks causing an environmental disaster with enormous impact on entire Red Sea coast. The leak could be four times worse than that of the oil tanker Exxon-Valdez. The tanker contains an estimated 1.1 million barrels of oil.
KHARTOUM JULY 13: A dilapidated oil tanker anchored off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea risks causing an environmental disaster with enormous impact on marine life, agriculture, fisheries and human health.
Analysts estimate that a leak is imminent and could be four times worse than that of the oil tanker Exxon-Valdez in the late 1980s.
After intensive negotiations and preparations, the UN, with Swedish support, is facing a breakthrough that would allow the oil from the disintegrating tanker to be moved to safe custody.
– A lot is at stake here for millions of people, wildlife and countries in the area around the Red Sea. Through international cooperation, we contribute to preventing an environmental disaster of monumental proportions, says Maria Selin, Development Aid Counselor at the Embassy in Amman and Head of Sida’s Regional Development Cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa.
Can Affect Millions Of People
The giant oil tanker FSO Safer contains an estimated 1.1 million barrels of oil. Since the Yemen conflict began, the ship has not been able to be maintained and has decayed more and more over the years.
According to analysts, a leak is imminent and it would cause a huge spill where remediation work is estimated to cost upwards of 20 billion dollars.
In addition to the economic implications, a leak would have devastating effects on the environment, affect upwards of a thousand different species of marine life, destroy ecosystems and wipe out large parts of the fish stock for a very long time to come.
– This could have serious and direct consequences for twelve million people in Yemen and communities around the Red Sea coast. The marine ecosystem would be hit hard, which would have significant consequences for both agriculture and fishing and also give people major health problems, says Maria Selin.
The work of dealing with FSO Safer has been going on for several years and has been hampered by the war in Yemen. Sweden, through Sida and together with other donors, has supported the work since 2020, and after consultations with a number of key players, a solution has now been reached.