Potential catastrophic oil spill in the Red Sea

UN urge for donation to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the Red Sea.

9/22/20231 min read

The FSO Safer, a dilapidated oil supertanker moored off the coast of Yemen, is in danger of breaking apart or exploding unless swift action is taken. The United Nations is now closer than ever to stopping this devastating leak. Generous contributions from donors, private companies and the public have already totaled $99.6 million, supporting UN 's two-phase plan to avert the disaster.

However, escalating prices for vessels needed to shop oil, largely due to the Ukraine conflict, have created a funding gap. An additional $129 million is now needed to safely transfer the oil to a very large crude carrier (VLCC) in the first phase of the operation. The selected vessel has been serviced and refurbished in dry dock in Zhoushan, China, and set sail in early April. If the remaining $29 million is raised quickly, UN can begin operations in the first half of this year.

How high is the risk?

The environmental impact of a major oil spill would be severe, affecting water, coral reefs, mangroves and marine life. The oil could reach the coasts of Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia. Desalination plants along the Red Sea coast could be forced to close, depriving millions of people of a vital water source. In addition, fishing communities along Yemen's Red Sea coast would face devastating consequences for half a million workers and 1.7 million dependents.

Coastal communities would be the hardest hit. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the fishing industry would be lost almost overnight. It would take 25 years for fish stocks to recover. The cost of cleanup alone would be $20 billion.

Source : United Nations