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UN says salvage team will start pumping oil from rusting tanker anchored off Yemen

An international team is to begin sucking oil out of the hull of a decrepit tanker anchored off the Pacific coast. Yemen This week, a UN official said on Sunday. This is the first concrete step in a years-long operation aimed at preventing a major oil spill. Red Sea.

More than 1.1 million barrels of oil stored in tankers known as “SOF safers” will be transferred to another ship purchased by the United Nations as a replacement for the rusting storage tankers, according to UNDP manager Achim Steiner.

“This salvage operation has reached a critical stage,” Steiner told The Associated Press, hours after the salvage team successfully moored the replacement vessel alongside the safer tanker in the Red Sea on Saturday. “In a way, this means the completion of a month-long preparatory phase.”

The rusty tanker is a Japanese-built ship built in the 1970s and sold to the Yemeni government to store up to 3 million barrels of oil for export pumped from Yemen’s oil fields in the 1980s. Malibu, eastern province of Yemen. The ship is 360 meters (1,181 feet) long and has 34 storage tanks.

The tanker is anchored 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Yemen’s western Red Sea ports in the ports of Hodaydah and Ras Issa, a strategic area controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels who are at war with an internationally recognized government.

The war in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis captured the capital Sanaa and most of northern Yemen, forcing the government to flee to the south and then to Saudi Arabia. The following year, a Saudi-led coalition entered the war, fighting the Houthis and attempting to restore an internationally recognized government to power.

The ship has not been maintained for eight years, has compromised structural integrity and is in danger of breaking or exploding. According to internal documents obtained by the agency, sea water entered the engine room of her tanker, damaging her piping and increasing the risk of her sinking. APs In June 2020.

The United Nations, other governments and environmental groups have long warned that a major oil spill or explosion could disrupt global commercial transport along the vital Bab El Mandeb and Suez Canal routes, causing irreparable damage to the global economy.According to the United Nations, the tanker carries four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez offshore Alaska spill, one of the world’s worst environmental catastrophes.

Steiner of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said the United Nations has been campaigning for years to raise funds for the $143 million salvage effort, including the purchase of new storage vessels to replace the rusting tankers.

“This was a very complex operation, first of all diplomacy was important, then the logistical capacity to carry out such an operation, and finally the ability to actually be on the ground with multiple ships to set the situation, but also mitigation measures, contingency planning, security planning,” Steiner said.

Funding has been a major challenge for the United Nations, which has turned to crowdfunding to fill the gap. But Steiner said he still needs about $20 million to complete the surgery. He criticized the oil and gas industry for not increasing contributions.

“Sometimes people wonder if a class of kids in a Maryland school can donate to crowdfunding,” he says.

The replacement vessel, now named ‘Yemen’, arrived on Yemeni shores earlier this month and the salvage team safely anchored alongside the Safer and began oil ship-to-ship transfers, in an unprecedented move involving a flotilla of technical and supply vessels to avoid operational failures.

“A lot of people thought that would never happen,” a UNDP administrator told The Associated Press from New York, adding that the salvage team has up to five weeks to complete all the work.

After transferring the oil, the replacement vessel will be connected to an undersea pipeline that carries oil from the field, he said.

“I think we can breathe easier when we see empty safers being towed to be recycled,” he says. UN says salvage team will start pumping oil from rusting tanker anchored off Yemen

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