UN Recovers Oil:
- On August 11, the United Nations announced that 1.14 million barrels of oil aboard a decaying tanker abandoned in the Red Sea had successfully been transferred to a replacement vessel.
- The recovery has helped to avoid a major ecological and environmental disaster.
- There were fears the deteriorating tanker could explode or fall apart, leaking oil into the Red Sea.
- A spill would have been devastating given the tanker held four times the amount of oil that leaked in the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, which released 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska.
- A major spill would have also exacerbated an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
- All ports in the region would be forced to close, cutting off the transfer of food, fuel, and other necessary supplies. 80 percent of Yemen’s population relies on aid.
Future of the Tanker & Recovered Oil:
- Despite the transfer of oil to the replacement vessel, work still needs to be done to decontaminate the FSO Safer.
- Questions still remain on the future of the oil recovered.
- An agreement on how the oil will be shared between the two governments has yet to be reached.
- Speaking on the matter, the UN development program administrator Achim Steiner said: “The best end to the story will be when that oil actually is sold and leaves the region altogether.”
- Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014 after members of the Houthi militia, Shiite rebels, invaded the capital, Sana’a, displacing the Sunni government.
- The Houthi government and the internationally recognized government have argued for years over ownership of the tanker.