Yemen oil tanker at risk of spreading into Red Sea

Western officials said Friday that an oil-storing ship rusting off Yemen’s Red Sea coast could burst or burst, warning of an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe if it breaks.

The FSO safeguard — which holds more than 1.1 million barrels of oil — spills four times from Exxon Valdez in Alaska in 1989 – is located near the port of Hodeidah, an important entry point for humanitarian aid in a country that is one in six is caught. Year Civil War. The ship is rapidly decaying after leaving five years ago when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of a nearby beach.

The UN and foreign powers are pushing for access to the vessel, but the Houthis have turned down 2019 requests, raising fears that rebels want to use it to benefit in peace talks.

A United Nations team oversaw the deployment of observers in Hodeidah last year.


Najeeb Almabobi / Shutterstock

Western officials said pipes and valves have deteriorated on the four-decade-old vessel and its cooling system has been running on seawater in recent months.

“Too much spark can ignite any oil,” said a UN official of SAFE.

According to a report prepared for the British government and seen by The Wall Street Journal, most of the oil on the west coast of Yemen can spread to the west coast of Yemen. The report said the recovery, including local fishing stocks, would cost 25 years and $ 20 billion. According to Western officials, the explosion will affect one of the world’s busiest and narrowest shipping lanes and temporarily close the port of Hodeidah.

The United Nations wants to assess the vessel before deciding on the scale of the repair and whether the oil — worth about $ 40 million if its quality has not deteriorated — needs to be removed. The Houthis have said they want the evaluation and repairs done in a voyage, which critics say is intended to ensure the ship’s stoppage.

Intense distrust on every issue has trumped international peace efforts in Yemen. After Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in late 2014, the US-led Saudi-led coalition tried to reestablish the government. Ground fighting, airstrikes and blockade against the Houthis have killed thousands of civilians, leading to what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government and rebels agreed to a cease-fire in Sweden in 2018, but peace talks have come to a halt as both sides regularly violate the truce and exchange of agreed-upon prisoners Let’s delay

A member of the Houthi militia conducted surveillance last year.


Najeeb Almabobi / Shutterstock

Western officials suspect that the Houthis want to keep the vessel as a possible temporary bomb to block coalition efforts to repel the Houthis. Howthis denies the charge.

“What kind of defense line would it make?” Foreign Minister of Houthi Hisham Sharaf said in an interview. “We certainly wouldn’t explode that thing to harm our people.”

However, Mr Sharaf admitted that the Houthis do not trust the coalition to not use the situation to attack Houdih. “We will not allow any tricks and tricks that may try to use the eco-cleaning operation for military purposes.”

Amid broker peace efforts in 2018, the Saudi-led coalition launched a massive offensive to try to recapture Hodeidah, during which dozens of civilians were killed in airstrikes.

The United Nations has received permission to arrive before the safe, and deployed a team to nearby Djibouti last year, but the Houthis revoked the permission a day before departure. Western officials say they are more hopeful this time, given the rapidly deteriorating condition of the vessel.

“We’ve been making progress for the past few weeks … We hope the necessary permits will come soon,” said John Ratcliffe, human affairs officer for the coordination of humanitarian affairs with the U.N. office.

The 1,200-foot safe is a Japan-made ship, launched in 1976 before being sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s for storing oil for export.

Abdulwahid al-Obali, a former employee, a worker and safe worker, said that the risk of arson had dramatically increased to inject nitrogen into the tanker to prevent contact between oxygen and crude oil. He summoned foreign powers to immediately take the tanker to a dry port to extract oil.

A ship at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah.


abduljabbar zeyad / Reuters

Fears were heightened by the devastating August eruption in the Lebanese capital where poorly-stored chemicals were seized years ago, where an unscrupulous ship exploded, killing hundreds and wrecking Beirut swaths. .

For now, Western officials are trying to keep safe – which was a major issue at the UN Security Council briefing in July – aside from widespread peace efforts.

“It said,” Mr. Ratcliffe said, “that a major spill could easily overwhelm everything else – including widespread political efforts to end the conflict.”

Write Stephen Kalin on sune.ras[email protected] and [email protected] on Sune Engel Rasmussen

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