Sanaa: International donors have pledged $33 million to prevent a major oil spill from a decaying tanker anchored off Yemen’s western coast, the UN said.
The commitments were announced at a pledging conference in The Hague co-hosted by the UN and the Dutch government on helping offload the FSO Safer tanker near the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Xinhua news agency quoted the world bosy as saying in a statement.
The UN has coordinated a plan to put a vessel in place within 18 months, then transfer the oil from FSO Safer to the safe temporary vessel in four months, requiring $144 million funds in total.
“Some 40 million dollars is now available for the UN-coordinated plan, which is supported by the parties to the conflict in Yemen and key stakeholders,” it noted.
As a floating storage and offloading facility, the tanker has been anchored off Red Sea coast for more than 30 years but began to be left neglected when a civil war broke out between the Yemeni government and Houthi militia about seven years ago.
It is now at the “imminent risk” of major spill either from leaking, breaking apart or exploding, the UN warned.
The tanker carries more than 1.14 million barrels of oil, about four times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez that caused one of the greatest environmental disasters in the US history.
The UN has tried to send inspectors to assess the tanker’s condition or study ways to offload it, but the Houthis have denied the personnel access to the tanker, citing security reasons.