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Saudi Arabia Warns UN of Oil Spot Near Decaying Yemen Tanker

Saudi Arabia Warns UN of Oil Spot Near Decaying Yemen Tanker

Thursday, 24 September, 2020 - 07:15
FILE PHOTO: United Nations Security Council members attend a meeting on the Middle East at UN headquarters in New York, US, December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Saudi Arabia has warned the UN Security Council that an "oil spot" had been seen in a shipping transit area 50 kilometers west of the decaying Safer tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Yemen.

The tanker has been stranded off Yemen's Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years.

In a letter to the 15-member body on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi wrote that experts had observed that "a pipeline attached to the vessel is suspected to have been separated from the stabilizers holding it to the bottom and is now floating on the surface of the sea."

“An oil spot has been observed 50 kilometers west of the vessel inside the transit area of merchant ships,” he said.

Al-Mouallimi wrote that the tanker "has reached a critical state of degradation, and that the situation is a serious threat to all Red Sea countries, particularly Yemen and Saudi Arabia," adding "this dangerous situation must not be left unaddressed."

The United Nations has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen's Houthi militias to send a mission to the Safer tanker to conduct a technical assessment and whatever initial repairs might be feasible.

The Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have both called on the Houthis to grant access.

“The Houthi militias have ignored all international pleas and warnings about the potentially catastrophic situation,” said Al-Mouallimi.

He urged the Council “to uphold its responsibility and to take immediate actions” to compel the insurgents to “give access to the tanker.”

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