West provides P&I cover for tanker now carrying FSO Safer oil

West P&I Club has said that it was pleased to be the provider of P&I cover for the tanker Yemen (IMO 9323948), (formerly Nautica), which has taken on board the 1.1m barrels formerly on the decaying tanker FSO Safer.

The 1976-built FSO Safer is owned by the Yemeni state oil company. Due to ongoing conflict in the region, operations onboard ceased in 2015 and the vessel has been out of class since 2016.

States raised with the UN their concerns about the pollution risk posed by the FSO Safer, highlighting the potential disastrous impact to the local ecosystem and people, as well as disruption to ports and shipping lanes to the Suez Canal.

In 2019 the UN requested funds from Member States and started an online crowd funding campaign where individuals could donate towards the purchase of a replacement vessel.

Finally, in 2023, funding, expertise and insurance were all in place and the transfer of oil could begin.

West said that it worked closely with the UN’s brokers, Howden to ensure its cover dovetailed with the suite of other insurances required before the oil transfer could begin.

Due to the condition of the FSO Safer, a cross departmental team was tasked with reviewing the risk of the operation prior to entry. Simon Hodgkinson, West’s Global Head of Loss Prevention, said that “nobody had been onboard FSO Safer in years and all parties involved understood that an environmental disaster was a ‘not if, but when’ scenario. Our key concern was the condition of the FSO Safer and the potential risk she posed to the Yemen and her crew. We had to be sure that her hull was strong enough for the Yemen to come alongside and that there were adequate resources available in this remote and environmentally sensitive location should pollution occur. While we were committed to supporting the operation, we had to be sure that it was not to the detriment of our Membership.”

Hodkinson said that, as the Yemen would be entered with the Club as a mutual risk, it was extremely important that Loss Prevention took the time to review every step of the proposed salvage plan, surveys, and contingency arrangements to investigate and identify the potential risk exposure in detail prior to providing P&I cover.

Ultimately, the Salvors and UNDP were able to show that any concerns West had were well-addressed in the project plan.

The Loss Prevention team worked closely with Underwriting prior to Yemen’s entry, but also monitored daily SITREPs throughout the transfer.”

Simon Parrott, Underwriting Director at West P&I, said that “writing this kind of risk is not straightforward, where the assured is an intergovernmental organization rather than a traditional owner, and there is a dispute surrounding title to the cargo onboard. There were interesting issues of treaty law surrounding the risk, and we had to be creative and flexible. We are delighted that cargo transfer onto the Yemen has been safely concluded and look forward to the next phase of the operation”.

West said that it was pleased to work with our Members Euronav and Anglo Eastern on this project.”

The UN project to safely scrap the FSO Safer at a green salvage yard is still ongoing. There is currently a funding gap of $22m, which the UN hopes to raise through donations from states and individuals.

The remaining work aboard the FSO Safer, now sitting empty and still-decaying off the coast of Yemen, consisted of the installation of a Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring (CALM) buoy to be connected to the new storage ship, the Yemen (ex Nautica), and towing away the Safer for scrap. The fundraising column on the website of UNDP remained open as the initiative awaits the funds to finish the task. There was no update on the site about the contract award for CALM Buoy or the towing away of the Safer.

2008-built, Liberia-flagged, 159,911 gt Yemen is owned and managed by SEPOC of Ma’rib, Yemen. It is entered with West P&I on behalf of SEPOC (Safer Exploration and Production Operations Co).