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The UN has launched a complex operation to pump oil from an abandoned ship in the Red Sea

26.07.2023 | 00:31 |
 The UN has launched a complex operation to pump oil from an abandoned ship in the Red Sea

The UN has launched an operation to defuse what may be "the world's largest time bomb." This was stated by the Secretary General of the organization, reporting on Tuesday that complex maritime rescue operations have begun in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen to transfer a million barrels of oil from the supertanker FSO Safer to another vessel.

According to Antonio Guterres, in the absence of other parties willing and able to carry out this task, the UN took responsibility and decided to carry out this complex operation.

This mission, the UN chief continued, requiring the participation of everyone and everyone, is the culmination of almost two years of political work and efforts to raise funds and plan the project.

The Safer oil tanker is moored off the west coast of Yemen in the Red Sea. The vessel was built in 1974, and since the late 80s the Yemeni government has used it as an oil storage tank. Since the beginning of 2015, Yemen has been gripped by conflict and no one is engaged in the ongoing repair of an oil tanker. In 2019, seawater leaked into the engine compartment and the integrity of the vessel was violated. The vessel contains about 1.14 million barrels of oil worth up to 80 million US dollars.

"The transfer of oil from one vessel to another, which began today, will be a critically important next step in efforts aimed at preventing an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe of colossal scale," Guterres stressed.

The vessel, as experts noted, could explode or fall apart, which would entail an oil spill of four times the volume of oil spilled as a result of the Exxon Valdez disaster. As a result of the accident that occurred on this vessel off the coast of Alaska in 1989, an oil slick of 28 thousand square kilometers was formed in the sea.

In the event of a disaster at FSO Safer, as Guterres notes, local fishing communities would be devastated, hundreds of thousands of jobs would disappear, and the population would be exposed to deadly toxins. Major ports would be forced to close indefinitely.


The supply of food, fuel and vital goods to millions of people would stop. "The catastrophe would have extremely disastrous consequences for the waters, coral reefs, marine flora and fauna," the UN Secretary General continued. – Shipping on sea routes up to the Suez Canal would be suspended for several weeks." The potential costs of cleaning work alone could amount to tens of billions of dollars.

The UN has attracted the best specialists to work: a team of the world's leading experts on the law of the sea, oil spills and rescue operations, marine mechanical engineers, shipbuilding engineers, insurance brokers and marine insurers, chemists, surveyors and representatives of other specialties.

The beginning of pumping oil from one vessel to another is a significant stage, but the end of the road is still far away, Guterres stressed.

According to him, the next critical step will be the organization of the delivery of a special buoy, to which the tanker replacement vessel will be securely and securely tied.

In the near future, about $ 20 million will be required to complete the project, which implies the cleaning and disposal of the FSO Safer tanker and the final elimination of the environmental threat to the Red Sea. The UN Secretary General appealed to donors to support these efforts.

"The current operation is an example of cooperation, proactive actions, political mediation, ingenuity and environmental management, and it once again confirms the indispensability of the United Nations and our partners," he stressed.



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