UN Relaunches Crowdfunding Campaign for FSO Safer Oil Removal Operation Ship’s crew

With news yesterday that the United Nations has secured the purchase of an oil tanker to receive oil from the derelict FSO safer in the Red Sea the UN restarts a crowdfunding campaign to fill budget gaps to complete the safe removal of oil from the ship.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Thursday announced an agreement with Belgian tanker company Euronav to purchase a very large crude carrier as part of the United Nations-led operation to transfer over a million barrels of oil from the floating storage and offloading vessel known.

The replacement ship is now in dry dock for modifications and regular maintenance before setting sail FSO safer, which is anchored about nine kilometers off Yemen’s Ras Isa peninsula. The operation is scheduled to begin in early May.

“UNDP’s purchase of this suitable vessel marks the start of the operational phase of the United Nations-coordinated plan to safely remove the oil from the safer and to avoid the risk of an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe on a massive scale,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

Due to the conflict in Yemen, the FSO safer has not been serviced since 2015 and has deteriorated to such an extent that there is an imminent risk of explosion or breakup.

The tanker holds 1.1 million barrels of oil, which is about four times the spilled amount Exxon Valdez and enough to cause the fifth largest oil spill by a tanker in history if the entire amount is released. Such a spill could devastate fishing communities on Yemen’s Red Sea coast and cause severe air pollution that would affect millions of people.

In addition, shipping through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to the Suez Canal could be disrupted, resulting in billions of dollars in global trade losses every day, similar to what happened back then Always given Grounded in canal in 2021. The ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, essential for shipping food, fuel and life-saving supplies to Yemen, could also be closed due to the spill, affecting 17 million people in need of food aid. A spill could also shut down desalination plants, disrupting a water source for millions of people. oil from the safer could reach the African coast and cause serious environmental impacts on coral reefs, life-sustaining mangroves and other marine life.

UNDP, which is conducting the operation as part of the UN-led initiative, has hired ship salvage company SMIT to safely remove the oil and prepare the oil safer to be towed to the scrap yard.

“We have to accept that this is a very challenging and complex operation. UNDP works 24/7 with experts from sister UN organizations such as IMO, WFP and UNEP, as well as international consultancies on maritime law, insurance and environmental impacts, to ensure we deploy the best possible expertise to successfully complete this operation,” adds Steiner.

Although the project has received significant international support, the high demand for suitable ships to carry out the operation and the rising costs attributed to the war in Ukraine mean that even more funds are needed to complete the contingency phase of the plan.

To fill the gap, the United Nations is launching another crowdfunding campaign to close the $34 million budget gap so the operation can begin as planned in the first half of this year. As of March 7, 2023, the United Nations has raised US$95 million, of which US$75 million has been received, of the total cost of US$129 million for the emergency phase of the project.

“UNDP’s purchase of the vessel is indeed a major step made possible by the generosity of donors, the private sector and global citizens. The parties to the conflict continue to support the plan. We are now in the operational phase and hope to have the oil removed from the safer within the next three to four months. But we still urgently need funds to implement the plan and prevent disasters,” said Sana’a, David Gressly, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, who has led the UN system-wide effort on Yemen safer since September 2021.

You can find out more about the plan and the crowdfunding campaign as well as ways to donate here: https://fundraise.unfoundation.org/give/412602/#!/donation/checkout

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