In the Red Sea FSO Safer, one of the world’s largest tankers rusting off the coast of Yemen, threatens to rupture at any time, according to experts, causing a devastating oil spill. Safer’s tanks contain 1.1 million barrels, or about 150,000 tons of crude oil.
The number is fourfold From the Exxon Valdez in 1989 in relation to the amount of oil spilled into Alaskan waters.
Safer, completed in Japan in 1976, was anchored northwest of the port city of Hodeida as early as 1987, when it was purchased by the Yemeni government as a floating export warehouse. The 362-meter vessel pulls about three million barrels of oil, and Yemenis pumped oil from their fields to the ship along a pipeline pulled to the seabed.
In the war in Yemen, which began in 2015, Safer was taken over by the Huth rebels and has not been maintained at all.
Feared the effects of the oil spill on the unique ecosystem of the marine area have been studied in the past. Coral reefs would be destroyed and fish stocks on Yemen’s Red Sea side would disappear. What about people?
A group of ten U.S. researchers released on Monday Nature Sustainability scientific report on the likely consequences of an accident threatening human health.
The leaking oil would conquer half of the Red Sea in three weeks during the winter and pollute the coasts of Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti, as well as the southern coast of Saudi Arabia. Tens of thousands of square kilometers of oil rigs would suffice.
The fastest the effects would be felt on the skins of six-year-old Yemeni victims of the war. Oil packed into Yemeni ports would close ports and stop fuel imports. Electricity is generated by generators, so the pumps that maintain the water network would not work. Eight million people would be left without drinking water, researchers say.
Power outages due to hostilities caused a cholera epidemic in 2017, as even sewers stop pulling due to a lack of electricity. This would also happen in an oil spill, and in addition, hospitals would be left without electricity.
More than half of Yemen’s population lives on international aid, and 68 percent of aid passes through the ports of Hodeida and Salif, adjacent to Safer. The transport of aid would stop immediately, and there would be no fish. Four out of five Yemenis – some 24 million people – are in need of help, so a famine is likely to result.
Next the oil contaminated the desalination plants in Saudi Arabia and Eritrea, taking fresh water from two million people. In summer, the oil would spread more slowly and to a narrower area than in winter because evaporation would be faster.
Depending on the season, about half of the oil spilled into the sea would evaporate, reducing damage at sea. On the other hand, evaporative gases would pollute the air off the coast of Yemen. Depending on the weather, the contaminants increased the number of lung injury patients by 6 to 42 percent, the researchers write.
The effects would not remain local or regional. Ten percent of the world’s maritime traffic passes through the Bab el Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea to the Suez Canal and back.
Thick oil rigs would spread in two to three weeks off the coast of Eritrea. The masters of cargo ships would hardly drive their propellers and seawater filters to this crap but would rather tour Africa.
Safer got rusted in peace until in May last year it was reported that water had taken over the ship’s engine room. The high salinity of the seawater had corroded the main engine cooling pipe and caused a leak.
A year ago, it was reported that an oil pipeline that had brought crude oil to Safer from the mainland had come off its mounts and floated on the surface of the sea.
Experts estimate that leakage, rupture or even explosion is possible due to evaporative gases and extinguishing systems will not work. The body of the safer is single-hulled, meaning that the tanks are emptied in the event of damage directly into the sea.
The researchers point out that all possible dangers are easily countered by pumping the Safer empty and putting the oil up for sale. However, the rebels and the Yemeni government are immersed in a dispute over who owns the tens of millions of euros worth of oil. Not even the UN team of experts has gotten on board.
Correction 12.11. at 11.26 p.m. The story was once misspelled about the Gulf. However, it is about the Red Sea.
Read more: A tanker carrying more than a million barrels of oil has rusted off the coast of Yemen for five years now – the ship could sink at any moment, warns the UN