The UN expected the process of unloading Yemen's eroding FSO Safer tanker to an alternative vessel will begin in mid-July.
The vessel is holding more than a million barrels of oil and has been moored off the Ras Issa coast in Hodeidah for years. It is in "imminent" danger of breaking up, the UN warned last week.
According to the UN’s operational plan to deal with Safer, the new ship will selected in May and contract details to be completed in July.
At an international conference two days ago, the UN managed to raise $41.5 million in funds for its operational plan. However, the global body estimated that it needs a total of $144 million to implement it.
Around $80 million is urgently needed to implement the emergency operation to eliminate the direct threat and transfer oil from Safer to the temporary ship during the summer.
An official at the Safer Exploration & Production Operations Company, which owns FSO Safer, doubted the plan would succeed.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the UN will face great challenges, most importantly, getting the Iran-backed Houthi militias to follow through with their commitments.
Moreover, the official commented on the UN’s estimation of the funds needed to empty FSO Safer and said that they were exaggerated.
“These sums can be used for major matters, including the resumption of the construction of strategic reservoirs on the land, a project that would have had six months to be completed, had it not been for the war that the Houthis ignited,” the official told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The official also questioned the UN’s decision to rent another vessel to hold FSO Safer’s oil.
The FSO Safer was constructed in 1976 as an oil tanker and converted to a floating storage and offloading vessel a decade later. Safer has not been serviced since 2015.
At 376 meters long, it is among the largest oil tankers in the world. The crude oil it holds is four times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez, the tanker that caused one of the greatest environmental disasters in the history of the United States.