The UN now has all the funds needed to start an emergency operation to prevent a massive oil spill from the derelict Safer oil tanker in the Red Sea off Yemen.
David Gressly, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said on Wednesday that donors have pledged all of the $75 million required for phase one of the UN plan — an emergency operation to transfer oil from the decaying tanker to a safe vessel, reports Xinhua news agency.
He said the donation has surpassed the required $75 million.
The UN Development Programme is actively working on the first contracts to initiate the salvage operation.
There will be a period of a few weeks of mobilization for that, followed by a four-month operation to stabilize the Safer for the work to transfer oil to a second vessel, and then for completing the work of phase two — a permanent storage solution, said Gressly.
The progress was announced after a high-level event on the Safer tanker, co-chaired by the Netherlands, the US and Germany, on Wednesday.
To begin work on the emergency operation as soon as possible, the UN needs donors to convert all of the pledges to cash.
As of Sunday, $59 million had been disbursed or was in the process of being disbursed.
The UN also needs a further $38 million for phase two.
The original budget for the plan was reduced by $31 million largely because of the adoption of a double-hull vessel tethered to a buoy system as the safe long-term solution.
The system is the fastest to implement and most flexible of the three long-term replacement options that were considered, according to the UN.
The Safer, currently carrying more than 1 million barrels of oil, has been moored off the port of Hodeidah since 1988 as a crude oil storage and offloading platform.
It has not been inspected or maintained since 2015.
In May 2020, seawater leaked into the engine room.
A temporary fix by divers from the Safer corporation succeeded in containing the leak.
But the fix was not supposed to hold for long.
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