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Broken Pipe inside Safer Tanker off Yemen Brings it Closer to Disaster

Broken Pipe inside Safer Tanker off Yemen Brings it Closer to Disaster

Saturday, 26 September, 2020 - 05:45
This image provided by I.R. Consilium taken in 2019, shows the extent of the corrosion in the boiler system inside the FSO Safer tanker, moored off Ras Issa port, Yemen. (AP)

An official at the SAFER Exploration and Production Operations Company reiterated his call for the immediate unloading of the fuel cargo on board the eroding Safer oil tanker to avert a disaster off the Yemeni coast.

The official revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the main export pipe at the tanker has been broke due to strong winds and waves.

The pipe is now broken in half, he warned, saying disaster was imminent.

The Iran-backed Houthi militias have, under various excuses, been barring a United Nations team of experts from accessing the vessel to assess it and determine what repairs it needs.

The Houthis will refuse the unloading of the oil cargo should they grant the team access to the tanker, said the official. “This obstacle will have consequences.”

“We must focus on unloading the cargo, not just repairing the tanker. The team must be allowed to remove the oil immediately,” he urged.

The vessel, which is carrying a cargo of 1.1 million barrels of oil, has been moored off the coast of Ras Issa, in Hodeidah province, since 2015.

The eroding tanker is in desperate need of repair. Water has already started to leak into its engine room, prompting UN officials to warn of a major impending environmental disaster in the Red Sea, as well as the potential risk of a massive explosion caused by the buildup of gases in the storage tanks.

The Houthis that control Hodeidah have been obstructing UN efforts to send maintenance teams to the tanker, heedless of the crisis and looming danger.

Meanwhile, Arab Parliament Speaker Dr. Mishaal al-Salami pleaded on Friday with the international community to intervene to stop the impending disaster.

He held the Houthis completely responsible for preventing the UN team from carrying out the necessary repairs and maintenance operations on the vessel.

The international community must act “immediately and urgently to grant the team access in order to avert this major humanitarian disaster,” he demanded.

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