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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Vessel holding more than one million barrels of oil poses threat of environmental disaster
July 12, 2020
July 12, 2020
Yemen's Houthi rebels have agreed to provide the United Nations access to a stranded oil tanker that risks causing an environmental disaster off the coast of the war-divided country, according to two sources at the global body.
The UN last week said it was extremely concerned after water entered the engine room of the FSO Safer, a tanker holding 1.1 million barrels of crude oil that has been stranded off the Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for over five years.
The sources told Reuters that the Iran-aligned rebels, who control the port, had sent a letter approving the deployment of a UN technical team to the tanker.
Effectively a floating storage platform, the 45-year-old vessel has had virtually no maintenance for five years since war broke out in the country after the Houthis have seized much of the north from the internationally recognised government.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday that prospects for a mission to the site had been revived, and that if an inspection team is allowed on board it will conduct light repairs and determine the next steps.
"We hope logistical arrangements will be quickly completed so this work can begin," he said.
The United Nations is discussing with Yemen's warring parties about arranging the sale of the crude and dividing proceeds between Yemen's Saudi-backed government and the rebels.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Safer tanker issue which has been mired in disputes over control of ports and revenues.
Yemen's oil and gas fields are located in the country's eastern and southern areas held by the government but output has collapsed since the conflict began. The rebels control Sanaa and most big urban centres including the main Red Sea port of Hodeidah, near Ras Issa.
The civil war has killed more than 100,000 people and caused what the UN describes as the world's largest humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations recently launched virtual talks among the parties to agree a permanent ceasefire and confidence-building steps to restart peace negotiations. But discussions have been complicated by a surge in violence since late May when a temporary truce prompted by the coronavirus pandemic expired.
Updated: July 12, 2020 03:42 PM
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