Off the coast of Yemen lies a decayed oil tanker threatening a major oil spill. According to some estimates, the recent spill in Mauritius would resemble only 1% of the magnitude of this spill if it is to occur. Built in 1976, the ‘Safer’ Floating Storage Offloading vessel (FSO) has not undergone any documented maintenance since the outbreak of Yemen’s war in 2015.
Holding 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, any explosion or spill would have a catastrophic regional impact. Damage to the Safer FSO would negatively affect an already devastating economic and humanitarian situation In Yemen. It would also cause serious damage to the marine environment (and economy) in the broader region, stretching from Yemen to the Saudi Farasan islands, the Eritrean Dahlak islands, and the Djibouti coast.
Given this magnitude of threat, the looming ‘Safer catastrophe’ has been acknowledged as an issue of international security, with a number of foreign governments and international organizations debating the issue and promising help.
Notwithstanding such rising international commitment, interventions are technically challenging and politically sensitive. In the context of Yemen’s civil war, previous UN attempts of monitoring the Safer FSO have been politicized and were ultimately stalled by conflict parties.
To inform about and contribute to resolving the ‘Safer affair’, Mashora Group hosted an inter-disciplinary webinar that brought together key international experts and stakeholders.