Broken oil tanker salvage can begin – As soon as money flows


imminent catastrophe

Rescue of broken oil tanker off Yemen can begin – as soon as the money is available

The UN has received enough pledges to salvage an old oil tanker in the Red Sea. However, Greenpeace criticizes that most countries have not yet transferred the money. Because Switzerland spoke a significantly lower sum than other countries, it was previously criticized.

The “FSO Safer” could no longer be maintained due to the civil war in Yemen. The tanker is in a desolate condition.

key stone

A huge environmental catastrophe is looming off the coast of Yemen. The reason for concern is an over 40-year-old oil tanker that has been in the Red Sea since 2015. The United Nations has previously warned that the FSO Safer, loaded with over 140,000 tons of crude oil, could break up. In order to prevent a catastrophe, the UN plans to pump the oil onto another ship and clean the ship’s tanks after transhipment. But the organization needs money for this.

At a donor conference in May, the UN wanted to collect 80 million US dollars, instead governments only came up with 61 million. Now a rescue still seems possible. On Wednesday evening, on the fringes of the General Assembly in New York, the UN announced that it had received pledges totaling 77 million dollars for the salvage.

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressley, spoke of a “significant milestone” that had been reached. In addition to 17 countries, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and a “very successful” crowdfunding initiative launched in June also contributed to this.

More funds are needed

However, the pledged $77 million only covers the first phase of the bailout. For the second phase, the UN will need more than $30 million to tow and dispose of the tanker. However, David Gresley is confident. In a statement, the environmental organization Greenpeace is initially relieved about the government’s commitments. At the same time, she complains that as of mid-September only Sweden, France, Finland and Switzerland had transferred the money for the rescue.

The organization also complained that major oil companies had made “record profits” in the past two quarters, but none of these companies had committed funds to the bailout.

Modest contribution from Switzerland

When the UN held the donors’ conference for the rescue operation in May, the USA and Saudi Arabia were among the largest donors, each with 10 million dollars. According to its own statements, Germany has promised 12 million, the Netherlands 7.9 million, Great Britain 5 and Sweden 3.1. In contrast, Switzerland’s contribution was modest: it provided 300,000 dollars. Greenpeace was disappointed by this. In a letter, she asked Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis to “substantially” increase the amount.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has not complied. At the time, the FDFA put it into perspective that other European countries had given money “to the same extent”. In addition, Switzerland is helping the UN to establish contact with companies that could be potential donors. However, the Federal Council confirmed on Monday during Question Time in Parliament that the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (Deza) had contacted “relevant companies based in Switzerland” to invite them to participate in the rescue plan.

Should the ship break up, the consequences of an oil slick would be catastrophic, according to the UN. This would not only devastate the fishing communities along the Yemeni coast, but would also have a massive impact on marine life. The financial cost of cleaning up the sea alone is currently estimated at 20 billion dollars.