Success of international efforts to save the world from the SAFER disaster
IMO has made significant progress with its contingency planning efforts to prepare for a possible oil spill from the deteriorating floating storage and offloading unit (FSO) SAFER, which is moored off the coast of Yemen. The unit has an estimated 150,000 MT of crude oil on board.
Contingency planning is taking place alongside preparations for a UN-led assessment mission on the FSO SAFER, scheduled to take place in early 2021. In line with the scope of the mission that was recently agreed, a UN team will board the FSO for 30 days to assess its state and carry out light repairs. However, the scope of the mission does not include offloading the oil currently on board the FSO.
Improve the efficiency, effectiveness and management of emergency response operations in the event of a spill from the FSO SAFER
IMO will continue to provide technical input to the UN interagency process, which is led by the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen (OSESGY), with participation from UN OCHA, UNOPS, IMO and UNEP.
The IMO-led contingency planning efforts, carried out in collaboration with key stakeholders in the region, aim to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and management of emergency response operations in the event of a spill from the FSO SAFER. Should an oil spill occur, IMO is able to support national Governments and regional organizations, on the basis of a formal request for assistance , by providing technical assistance and backstopping regional efforts in line with the provisions contained in Article 12 of the OPRC Convention.
A summary of the current situation and challenges was presented to IMO Member States during an online briefing (10 December). IMO officials presented the work carried out to date as well as remaining gaps, and highlighted the additional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in the region. Participants were also briefed on legal aspects, including possible challenges related to liability and compensation.
The floating storage and offloading unit (FSO) SAFER was built in 1976 as an ultra-large crude carrier (ULCC) and converted to a FSO in 1986. It has not been maintained or inspected since 2015 and has been out of class since 2016. An oil spill, which could be caused by a slow release or an explosion, could have catastrophic environmental and humanitarian impacts on the region.