Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Safer Oil Tanker… A Houthi Gamble Threatening the Environment

Safer Oil Tanker… A Houthi Gamble Threatening the Environment

Tuesday, 31 March, 2020 - 10:00
Safer oil tanker (Arabic website)

On March 24 1989, the greatest ocean disaster occurred when Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker owned by the Exxon Shipping Company, spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound.

The Safer oil tanker has been docked 60km (37 miles) north of Yemen's port city of Hodeidah since the late 1980s and suffers from poor maintenance since the war broke out in Yemen some five years ago.

Experts warn that another oil spill at Safer could affect regional waters for generations to come.

Compared to the Exxon Valdez, the Red Sea faces a four-fold greater disaster should the 138 million liters of oil on board Safer spill into waters because of the Iran-backed Houthi militia narrow-mindedness.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that they had monitored “recent movements inside the tanker that had not occurred before, indicating Houthi preparations for some action.”

“Houthis are gambling when it comes to the Safer oil tanker,” the undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Information Najeeb Ghallab said, noting that the Iran-backed group may resort to bombing the tanker as a form of military retaliation.

“Houthis are indifferent to any damage that will be caused to the marine environment and fishermen, and the catastrophic impact on Yemenis,” Ghallab added.

Ghallab warned from the marine effects that would emanate in the event of the tanker blowing up.

“It will produce the greatest marine oil-related disaster in the history of the world, and its effects will last more than 25 years, according to experts,” he said, adding that the lives of more than 18 million Yemenis will be affected, not to mention marine life in the area.

“The damage will not stop on the Yemeni coasts, but will affect most of the countries bordering the Red Sea,” Ghallab added.

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