Muscat – Oman has welcomed the announcement by the United Nations of the completion of unloading oil from a dilapidated Yemeni tanker, removing the imminent risk of a spill.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry praised the efforts of the UN and the international community, and the cooperation of the Yemeni parties to avert an environmental disaster.
The UN said on Friday it had successfully transferred more than 1mn barrels of oil from FSO Safer.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ‘welcomes the news that the ship-to-ship transfer of oil from FSO Safer to the Yemen replacement vessel has been safely concluded today, avoiding what could have been a monumental environmental and humanitarian catastrophe’, a statement said.
The milestone means that “the core aspect” of a years-long effort to address the threat posed by the Safer, often referred to as a “ticking time bomb”, is now finished, said UN Development Programme head Achim Steiner.
“That removes the imminent and immediate threat that had become the focus of attention across the whole world: a tanker that could break apart or explode in the Red Sea,” Steiner told AFP.
But the saga is not over. The UN has previously warned that even with its cargo removed, the Safer “will pose a residual environmental threat, holding viscous oil residue and remaining at risk of breaking apart”.
The project’s next phase, stripping and cleaning the Safer‘s tanks and preparing it for towing and scrapping, is expected to take “anywhere between two to three weeks”, Steiner said.
The Safer has been moored around 50km from Hodeida since the 1980s.