UN needs another $24m for FSO Safer oil to be transferred safely

The UN’s recent attempts to raise further funds to finance the transfer of 1.1m barrels of crude oil from the FSO Safer to new storage on the Nautica (IMO 9323948) failed by some distance to reach its target.

Donors promised an additional $5.6m towards transferring the oil from the Safer, which has been slowly decaying off the coast of Yemen since 2015. But that left a shortfall of $24m needed for the completion of just the “emergency phase” of the operation. The UN has been emphasizing that the sum required is piffling when compared to the potential environmental cost of a leak from the Safer, but the disconnect between cost to the world and cost to personal donors has made it hard to get individual contributors to step up to the plate.

In total the operation is budgeted at $129m. Egypt, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Republic of Korea, the UK and private company Octavia Energy and its subsidiary Calvalley Petroleum announced pledges that reached almost $8m, although only $5.6m of this represented new cash. The UN has now raised $105.2m for the emergency phase of the operation, leaving $23.8m to be found.

In March, the UN pais $55m to Euronav for a replacement vessel, the VLCC Nautica, but this was a higher sum than had initially had been anticipated. The introduction of sanctions on Russia have served to increase the number of sea miles needed by the global oil tanker sector, with a concomitant increase in the value of older tankers.

Since the purchase the UN has contracted Boskalis subsidiary Smit Salvage to transfer the oil from the Safer and to prepare the vessel to be towed to a scrapyard. Salvage vessel Ndeavor departed for the Red Sea on April 21st. The UN said that the Nautica, Ndeavor and the team that would carry out the transfer of the oil were en route to Djibouti for final preparations, with the operation still scheduled to begin before the end of May.

The $19m cost of the next phase will comprise the installation of a catenary anchor leg mooring buoy, tethering the replacement vessel to it and towing Safer to a salvage yard for recycling.

UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said that “we appreciate the UK and the Netherlands stepping up and taking the lead in organizing this pledging conference and we thank those who have contributed so far. Yet, the funds are still significantly short of what is needed. The rationale for action is clear: $20m now could save $20bn in potential costs later. The moral case is equally clear. Millions stand to suffer in the event of an oil spill from FSO Safer.”

2008-built, Liberia-flagged, 159,911 gt Nautica is owned by Taiping & Sinopec TJ5 Shipping care of manager Euronav Luxembourg SA. ISM manager is Anglo-Eastern Mgmt-HKG (Equasis). It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of Euronav Luxembourg. As of May 11th the vessel was moored at Djibouti.