An abandoned oil tanker off the coast of Hodeidah that has been described as a “floating bomb” is still afloat after seawater made its way into one of the cooling system’s pipes.

Safer oil employee: Oil tanker off Hodeidah will sink in weeks if not urgently repaired 

An abandoned oil tanker off the coast of Hodeidah that has been described as a “floating bomb” is still afloat after seawater made its way into one of the cooling system’s pipes, according to a specialist. On Monday, he claimed the floating reservoir, which contains 1.14 million barrels of crude oil, will sink in the coming few weeks without urgent intervention. 

"For the second time, there is a hole in the tanker of one of the pipes of the cooling system, but thanks to God, the Yemeni crew was able after a great effort to fill the hole," the oil specialist, economist and Safer oil senior employee Abdulwahed Al-Awbali said in a Facebook post.

The tanker, officially called FSO Safer, has been abandoned for half a decade, after the Houthi takeover of large swaths of the country in 2014, including the ports of Hodeidah.  

"Things are temporarily under control, but it could turn into a disaster at any moment as a result of the deterioration and erosion of the pipes," Al- Al-Awbali said.

The hole led to the leakage of seawater into the reservoir through the lock, which was not able to completely close due to rust and lack of maintenance, he said, forcing the ship's team to run the fire pump to push the water out of the ship and prevent the water level from increasing.

"Meanwhile, the backup generator, which was operating the pump, was shut down due to a malfunction that lasted for hours, during which the water level rose and the situation began to become dangerous, but after a great effort the ship's team was able to repair the generator and resume pumping water from inside the ship," he added.

"Then the technical team cut the perforated part of the tube and closed the hole with a piece of iron as a temporary solution." 

The issue requires divers to block the vents from the outside so that it is possible to open the lock and repair what can be repaired, all of which are temporary solutions anyway, according to Al-Awbali. 

The government called on the United Nations and the international community to shoulder their legal and moral responsibility and to pressure the Houthis to allow the immediate and unconditional arrival of the UN technical team to conduct the necessary assessment and maintenance and unload the quantities of oil stored in order to prevent one of the largest environmental and economic disasters in the region and the world.

“If it leaks, they will be the only ones to blame for the humanitarian costs in Yemen and the environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea,” the US State Department previously said in a statement, referring to the Houthis. 

The UN previously accused the Houthis of obstructing the maintenance process.

Tthe Houthis objected to sending equipment and an assessment team from the United Nations to Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden coast in August, based on a prior agreement with the Houthi authorities," said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock in a briefing to the Security Council last September.


Editing by Ahlam Mohsen



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