BEIRUT,  11 August– Greenpeace celebrates the significant milestone in the effort to avoid a humanitarian and ecological crisis as the million-plus barrels of oil on board the decaying FSO SAFER have been safely transferred to a new vessel. While we mark this success, it is imperative to address the absence of accountability exhibited by the oil industry that has recorded staggering profits, but hasn’t yet shown any sense of responsibility. This status quo must change and these corporations must be held accountable and fund the forthcoming stages urgently.

The three-week long operation to drain the SAFER was completed with the oil now on board the newly renamed YEMEN supertanker.

Ghiwa Nakat, Executive Director of Greenpeace MENA said: ”This a big achievement for a long awaited operation. Despite the refusal of the oil industry to clean up its own mess, the international community had come together to help defuse this ticking time bomb that threatened the entire Middle East.”

“The oil companies most responsible for the SAFER debacle are among the same companies responsible for the climate crisis. They are obscenely rich and should be made to pay for the historical and future damage their operations cause. Polluters should bear the costs of their deadly trade, not communities in the global south.”The United Nations has been desperately raising funds to pay for the operation, even organising a crowdfunding campaign. More finance will be needed for the next stages but the oil companies are escaping their responsibility for the end of life for the SAFER. As the UN struggles for funding, there is a real danger that the SAFER could end up in one of the ship scrapping beaches in South Asia where they will be broken under rudimentary conditions with disastrous consequences on the host countries and communities. “Even after the oil is removed, SAFER will continue to pose a potential hazard due to the substantial amount of residues and hazardous materials, including asbestos. It is crucial that the recycling process for the Safer adheres to the highest standards, such as those outlined in the EU Ship Recycling Regulations, ensuring safety and environmental preservation.” said Nakat.

Oil giants such as TotalEnergies, Exxon, OMV and Occidental have used the SAFER for decades and are the likely owners of some of the transferred oil, yet have not lifted a finger to help prevent a potentially massive oil spill in the Red Sea.

The risk of an oil spill or explosion was hanging over the heads of millions of people living in the region. Now that the oil has been transferred to a new vessel, the risk has significantly decreased. However the threat cannot be averted until a final solution is found and the oil is completely and safely removed from Yemeni waters.