Talks break down over crumbling Yemeni tanker threatening massive oil spill

DAHAB, Egypt — A decaying super-tanker anchored off Yemen with 1.1 million barrels of Marib light crude oil in its hold looks increasingly likely to wreak havoc in the Red Sea, experts are warning. Talks between the U.N. and the Houthi administration in control of the area aimed at brokering a deal for international intervention reached a “dead end” late June 1, according to a Houthi statement. The structural integrity of the FSO Safer is rapidly deteriorating, risking a catastrophic oil spill that threatens the region’s people and marine ecosystem, which scientists describe as a critical refuge from climate change for corals. A solution has proven elusive in a country mired in civil war and humanitarian crisis. The Houthis have repeatedly blocked requests to bring in international expertise, funding and equipment to safeguard the area, declining to grant permission to access the vessel under terms acceptable to the U.N. despite agreeing to a deal in principle in November 2020. The U.N. has yet to comment on the apparent impasse. Water entering the Safer’s engine room, May 2020. Image supplied with permission by I.R. Consilium. Impending oil spill The Safer is a floating storage and offloading vessel, property of the Yemeni state-owned company SEPOC. It has been anchored at the end of the Marib oil pipeline, around 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) offshore from the port city of Hudaydah, since 1988. The Houthi movement, formally known as Ansar Allah, captured the Safer in 2015, after it took over the area from the…This article was originally published on Mongabay