Saudi Arabia on Thursday asked the UN Security Council to take decisive resolutions to deal with SAFER FSO, a deserted oil tanker described as a “floating bomb” that is currently anchored off the coast of war-torn Yemen, and eliminate the threat it poses.
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In Saudi Arabia’s speech to the UN Security Council during its virtual meeting Thursday on the situation in Yemen, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Abdullah Al Mouallimi, expressed appreciation for the presidency of the Security Council for this month to hold a session to discuss the dangerous situation associated with the oil tanker (FSO Safer) and the imminent threats posed by this tanker to the environment and the safety of maritime navigation in the Red Sea. He pointed out that the floating oil tanker and the grave risks associated with it threaten to inflict serious damage in the south of the Red Sea and the entire world, as it is located near Bab Al Mandab, which is a vital passage for international maritime navigation between Asia and Europe.
The ship, a large oil tanker, that has been permanently moored 7km off the Yemeni port of Ras Isa since 1988, is a testament to a time when the Yemen economy was functioning.
Owned by the Yemen oil company, SAFER allows vessels to moor offshore and transfer oil extracted and processed from operations in the Marib oil field in central Yemen. The tanker contains 34 crude oil tanks of different sizes and volumes, amounting to a total capacity of around 3m barrels.
The Saudi Ambassador explained that the risks resulting from the current situation include, but are not limited to, “the possibility of an oil spill in excess of one million litres, which is four times the size of the notorious Exxon Valdez disaster that occurred in Alaska in 1989”, in addition to the possibility of closing Hodeidah port for several months, which could lead to a severe shortage of fuel supplies and other basic needs that are provided to the Yemeni people, and the fishing industry in the region being severely damaged, which may take years to recover.
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