The Yemeni government has demanded UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to exert more pressure on the Iran-backed Houthi militias to allow a UN technical team to carry out the necessary maintenance work on the Safer floating storage and offloading terminal to avoid an environment disaster.
The Foreign Ministry accused the Houthis of continuing to deny the UN team access to the vessel. The ongoing delay threatens the erosion of the storage, which in turn may lead to an oil leak or accumulation of highly flammable gases.
“If it happens, the oil spill will extend beyond Yemen to the other Red Sea countries,” the statement warned.
The vessel is loaded with an estimated 1.1 million barrels of oil and is described by experts as a floating bomb.
The Ministry said that the tanker was last maintained in 2015.
It explained, in a study attached to the statement, that possible damage would affect the environment, coral reefs, marine life, international navigation, desalination projects, the salt industry and others.
The Houthis have been demanding that oil stored in Safer be sold, with the profits divided equally between them and the legitimate government.
The militias are hoping to reap 70 million dollars from the sale. The government has objected, saying the funds would end up being used by the Houthis to finance their war against the Yemeni people.
The Safer tanker has been moored some 7km off the Yemeni port of Ras Isa in Hodeidah.