on Friday 13 May, 2022

Yemen: $33 million pledged to prevent 'catastrophic' oil spill

The funding is needed to drain a stranded oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. The UN has warned the vessel could spill four times more oil than the Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska in 1989.

The UN says the cleanup costs for a potential spill will cost around $20 billion
by : (AFP, Reuters)

Donor countries have offered $33 million (€31.3 million) in funding to prevent a stranded oil tanker off the coast of Yemen from spilling oil.

The FSO Safer, which is in a state of decay, had been used as a floating storage platform. But according to the UN, it is now at risk of breaking up and potentially causing a catastrophic oil spill.

Officials warn the tanker is carrying four times the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaskan waters in 1989.
More funding needed

The amount gathered on Wednesday fell well short of the $80 million needed to fund an emergency operation to drain the vessel of its 1.1 million barrels of oil.

Netherlands pledged nearly $8 million, with other contributions coming from Britain, Germany, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Norway, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, and the European Union.

"We need to work quickly to get the remaining funds to start the four-month operation in the weather window we have ahead of us," UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, said in a statement.

"We need to finish this operation by the end of September to avoid the turbulent winds and currents that start in the latter part of the year ... increasing the risk of a breakup and, also, increasing the risk in conducting any operation."

Greenpeace called for countries to swiftly raise the money needed. "Enough delays: time to step up and fully fund US $80million to transfer the oil to safety, swiftly and securely," the organization said in a tweet.

Before the donor conference, Gressly warned that there was an "imminent threat of a major oil spill from the Safer," adding that a spill "would unleash a massive ecological and humanitarian catastrophe centered on a country already decimated by more than seven years of war."

It's feared a potential spill would hit fishing communities hard which could impact millions of lives. Other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia would also be at risk.

According to the UN, the cleanup costs for a spill of this magnitude are estimated at around $20 billion.