All of the oil from a deteriorating tanker moored off Yemen has been transferred, UN says
The transfer of more than a million barrels of oil from an aging tanker moored off the coast of war-torn Yemen has been completed, avoiding an environmental disaster, the United Nations said Friday.
In a statement, Deputy Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq said that the operation had prevented “monumental environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.”
An international team began siphoning the oil from the dilapidated vessel known as SOF Safer on July 25. All of the oil is now aboard a replacement tanker called Nautica.
For years, international organizations and rights groups have warned of a potential spill or even an explosion from the tanker, which has not been maintained for years and has seawater in its engine compartment and damaged pipes.
It is moored 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Yemen’s western Red Sea ports of Hodeida and Ras Issa, a strategic area controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who are at war with the internationally recognized government.
Both warring sides blamed the other for blocking a salvage operation that would see the oil removed, until a UN-led initiative succeeded in accessing the ship and raising money from international donors.
The floating tanker is a Japanese-made vessel built in the 1970s and was sold to the Yemeni government in 1980s to store for export up to 3 million barrels pumped from oil fields in Marib, a province in eastern Yemen. The ship is 360 meters (1,181 feet) long with 34 storage tanks.