This is one of the consequences of the civil war in Yemen. 45 years old and containing 1.1 million barrels of crude, the FSO Safer has been anchored since 2015 off the port of Hodeida. It now risks triggering one of the largest oil spills in history, but also threatens the humanitarian situation in the country.
Rusty, this tanker has been left without maintenance for seven years and now seems to be deteriorating very quickly.
“The derelict tanker, with its polluting cargo of oil, poses a serious threat to communities and the environment of the Red Sea,” said Ahmed El Droubi, Middle East manager at Greenpeace.
According to a report by Greenpeace, an oil spill could lead to the closure of the ports of Hodeida and Salif through which 68% of humanitarian aid arrives, affecting more than 8.4 million people.
Desalination plants in Hodeidah, Salif and Aden in the south could also be affected and lead to the interruption of drinking water supplies for around ten million people.
Moreover, in this country on the verge of famine, the food security of more than 1.7 million Yemenis depends on fishing, underlines Greenpeace, warning of the danger of the destruction of the ecosystems of the Red Sea.
The worst oil spill in history
An explosion or a leak of its cargo would also have “consequences much more extensive, more serious and more lasting than the information previously available suggested”, underlines the NGO for the defense of the environment.
As indicated Release, if these 140,000 tonnes of oil spilled, the oil spill that it would cause would be four times worse than that of the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker that ran aground in 1989 not far from the coast of Alaska which had caused one of the worst disasters Of this genre.
The inspection of the ship, whose condition is deteriorating, has dragged on for years between requests for access from the UN and refusal by the Houthi rebels, who control most of the north of the country as well as the ports of Hodeida and Salif.
“The technology and the expertise to transfer the oil to other tankers exists, but after months of negotiations we are still at an impasse,” lamented Paul Horsman, project manager at Greenpeace International.
The conflict in Yemen has pitted the Iran-backed Houthis against government forces since 2014, backed by a military coalition led by Riyadh since 2015. According to the UN, the war has killed around 377,000 direct and indirect victims of fighting with the lack of drinking water, hunger and disease.