Together, the international community has defused a floating time bomb and prevented a potentially enormous environmental and health disaster. As of today, more than a million barrels of the crude oil contained on the aged and rusting tanker FSO Safer have been pumped onto a secure replacement ship. The danger of a disastrous oil spill in the Red Sea has thus been averted for the time being, after years of uncertainty. The salvage mission off Yemen’s coast under UN leadership has shown what is possible when the international community joins forces and gets to work.
A leak from the FSO Safer would have directly impacted the lives of millions of people in Yemen and the region, who would have lost their jobs and been exposed to deadly substances, while sealife in the area would have been utterly destroyed. The German Government provided around 12 million euro to support the UN’s plans for a salvage mission, making it the third-largest donor to this unprecedented operation.
There is still a great deal more to do: the FSO Safer’s tank must be cleaned, and it will be no mean feat to scrap the ship in accordance with international environmental standards. However, the successful completion of the pumping stage today represents a crucial milestone in the mission to salvage the FSO Safer.