For four years, the giant oil tanker FSO Safer has rotted in the Red Sea. Photos show that the condition of the abandoned ship is constantly deteriorating, which increases the risk of the ship’s cargo leaking into the sea. In that case, it can have enormous consequences.
FSO Safer is loaded with 1.1 million barrels of crude oil. That is four times as much oil as the leak from Exxon Valdez in the Gulf of Alaska in 1989, which to this day is considered the worst oil leak ever.
The whole region is affected
Experts have long sounded the alarm about the consequences of a potential leak in the Red Sea, but now it turns out that the extent may be even worse than first thought.
A recent report states that a leak from FSO Safer will make eight million people in the region waterless. At the same time, the entire Yemeni commercial fish stock can be eradicated in just three weeks, according to Nature Sustainabilty. The consequences will not only affect Yemen. Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Djibouti will also be affected by what could be one of the worst environmental disasters of modern times.
Controlled by rebels
The UN has for a long time been trying to get rid of the dangerous cargo, so far without success. The area is controlled by rebels, and despite repeated talks between the rebels, the UN and the Yemeni authorities, the UN has not been given permission to board the ship. The rebels demand a guarantee that the ship will be repaired, but the UN does not currently have the funds to implement this, writes The Guardian.
A potential leak will probably lead to more central port cities in Yemen, such as Salif and Hodeidah, having to close their ports. This in turn could lead to a national fuel crisis in the country, and prices are expected to increase by up to 80 per cent.
Nature Sustainability points out that even if half of the oil spill will evaporate within a day, the remaining quantities will reach Yemen’s coastline within a week. This in turn will lead to several million people suffering from food shortages, in one of the countries that is already home to one of the world’s most serious famines.
– The probability of a leak is constantly increasing. The visibly dilapidated FSO Safer also has only a single hull, which means that any leakage will flow straight into the sea, warns Nature Sustainabilty.
The report points out that a number of factors can cause a leak in the increasingly broken-down vessel, and asks the UN to act before it is too late.