After Beirut blast, experts urge action on region’s other ticking time bomb

Thank you for your reading and interest in the news After Beirut blast, experts urge action on region’s other ticking time bomb and now with details

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The 1.1 million barrels of oil aboard the FSO Safer off the Yemeni coast are at high risk of leaking or exploding

A photo provided by the maritime consultancy IR Consilium, taken in 2019, shows the external piping system and the hose failure that led to a spill from the FSO Safer oil tanker moored off Ras Issa port in Yemen. IR Consilium via AP

Photos of the FSO Safer taken in 2019 show the deterioration in the condition of the abandoned tanker, which has raised fears of an environmental disaster if it should explode or spill the more than one million barrels of oil on board. IR Consilium via AP

Internal decay inside the FSO Safer. Yemen's Houthi rebels have denied access to the tanker for inspection and maintenance. IR Consilium via AP

Corrosion in the boiler system of the FSO Safer. IR Consilium via AP

Oil leaks on the deck of the FSO tanker after a lack of basic maintenance for years. IR Consilium via AP

Corrosion on the control piping system inside the FSO Safer tanker. IR Consilium via AP

Corrosion in the internal piping system of the FSO Safer. IR Consilium via AP


The National

Aug 9, 2020

August 9, 2020


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In the wake of the Beirut explosion last week in which negligence and abandonment may have been crucial triggers, experts and analysts are calling for urgent action on another of the Middle East’s ticking time bombs – Yemen’s FSO Safer.

The rusting oil tanker off the Yemeni coast at Hodeidah was once used as an offshore storage platform for the country's small quantity of oil exports.

However, neglected and abandoned during the now five-year war, experts are calling for urgent action to secure the ship, built in 1976, in case it explodes or leaks its cargo of 1.14 million barrels of oil.

Long past its useful life, the single-hulled ship is already showing signs of its age with cracks appearing in the hull allowing seawater to seep inside, UN reports say.

The UN has discussed the vessel and is working to send a team of experts to carry out studies but work to make the vessel safe or offload the cargo – valued at over $80 million (Dh293m) – has been regularly delayed by the Houthi rebels who control Hodeidah and access to the ship.

Ibrahim Jala, a Yemeni analyst and non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute, last week urged action on the FSO Safer in the wake of the Beirut disaster in which 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate – commonly used in industrial explosives and fertiliser – left abandoned at the port for the past six years exploded in a fire on Tuesday.

He also claimed that 4,900 tonnes, nearly double the amount of ammonium nitrate in the Beirut warehouse, is being stored in Aden port.

He described this and the FSO Safer as nightmare situations.

If the oil aboard the FSO Safer leaks, analysts predict a catastrophe that outstrips even some of the world’s worst oil spills and cause irreparable damages much of the Red Sea’s natural wildlife and coastline.

Updated: August 9, 2020 02:30 PM

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