In a letter addressed to the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Greenpeace called for coordination between member states to hold an urgent meeting for Arab foreign ministers to fund the UN plan to rescue FSO Safer, and resolve the humanitarian and environmental threat that the tanker poses on the people of Yemen and neighboring countries, as well as on the region’s fragile ecosystems, including the unique Red Sea biodiversity.
FSO Safer is a rusting oil tanker carrying 1.1 million barrels of oil (more than 140,000 tons), anchored 6 miles off the coast of Yemen. An explosion or oil spill from FSO Safer could lead to one of the most dangerous oil spill disasters in history, according to a study conducted by the scientific unit at Greenpeace.
Ghiwa Nakat, Executive Director at Greenpeace MENA, said: “Today, we call upon the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit and urge him to coordinate with member states to hold an urgent meeting and make concerted efforts to fund the plan to rescue the Safer before it is too late and before disaster strikes. It is deplorable that the Safer crisis has yet to be resolved due to the lack of financial support. Tragically, only one Arab state has so far contributed to the funding of the plan which has amounted so far to only half of the money needed.”
Nakat added: “It is high time to resolve the Safer crisis and make every possible effort to avert the disaster looming on the horizon, particularly since this crisis will affect Arab states first and foremost. We trust that the League of Arab States is capable of playing this role and expediting the solution. If disaster strikes, its harsh consequences will affect us all, along with millions of people living in the region who will see their livelihoods, nutrition, health, and environment deteriorate.”
It should be noted that the massive FSO Safer has not received any maintenance since 2014, and serious signs of corrosion are beginning to appear. In March of this year, after months of intricate negotiations, the negotiating parties agreed on a plan to rescue the Safer. The UN pledging conference in May secured half of the required USD 80 million to fund the first stage of the plan, which involves transferring the oil from the rusting Safer to another tanker as a temporary measure.
Nakat concluded by saying: “The USD 80 million required to fund this operation is a drop in the ocean compared to the astronomical cost that Arab states will bear in response to any potential oil spill, which is estimated at USD 20 billion, not to mention the immeasurable impacts on the livelihoods of Arab coastal communities on the Red Sea and the great suffering that our brothers and sisters in Yemen would endure.”
Click here to read the letter sent to the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.
FSO Safer is a floating oil storage and offloading vessel that is moored in the Red Sea north of the Yemeni city of Al Hudaydah . Safer was built in 1976 by the Hitachi Zosen Corporation in Japan as the oil tanker Esso Japan.