Mission to prevent oil tanker disaster (1) infographic
Graphic shows detail of the mission to remove the oil from the stricken ship.


Operation to avert catastrophic oil spill begins

By Jordi Bou

June 1, 2023 - The UN has started an operation to remove 1.1 million barrels of oil from a decaying supertanker moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, in a bid to avert an environmental disaster.

The stranded ship, the FSO Safer, was left abandoned off the port of Hodeida after Yemen’s civil war broke out in 2015. It has not been serviced since then and now the UN warns that there is an imminent risk that the vessel could explode or break apart.

The salvage operation, which will cost an estimated more than $140 million, has been assigned to a company called SMIT Salvage. It will pump the oil from the Safer to the now UN-owned ship called Nautica, and then tow away the empty tanker.

That's much cheaper than the costs estimated to take care of a potentially catastrophic oil spill, which would take $20 billion to clean up.

The Safer holds four times the amount of oil spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

PUBLISHED: 01/06/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: UN, Apple Maps