UK pledges further £2m to address spill threat posed by SAFER tanker in Yemen

Efforts to prevent a major oil spill in the Red Sea have been boosted by a further £2 million UK contribution to the UN appeal coordinating the international response.

The FSO Safer tanker is moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast and contains more than a million barrels of oil.  The tanker is beyond repair, and it is feared that it could soon break apart or explode, destroying the environment around it and potentially exposing communities in Yemen to life-threatening toxins. At almost 400 metres long, it is among the largest tankers in the world and holds roughly 4 times the crude oil that was spilled during the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.

CMEC previously recorded a Podcast with Dr. Ian Ralby focused on the humanitarian and environmental time-bomb that is the FSO Safer.

The UN has been coordinating international efforts to prevent a disastrous oil spill from the tanker. The £2 million announced by the UK for the UN appeal today is in addition to £4 million pledged in May.

At a meeting with counterparts from Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US today, the UK's Minister for the Middle East and Asia Amanda Milling called on the international community to step up its efforts. She said:

 

"A major oil spill from the Safer oil tanker would create an ecological disaster in the Red Sea and exacerbate the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The UK is stepping up our support to resolve this crisis. The UN are ready to implement an emergency operation but the international community must increase funding to allow them to get started."

The first phase of the UN’s emergency salvage operation involves a 4-month effort during which a ship-to-ship transfer will be conducted to remove the oil from the Safer onto a UN-leased vessel.

Of the $80 million requested by the UN for completing this phase, $60 million has been pledged so far.