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UN-led mission to start draining stricken oil tanker off Yemen

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the  full piece here in The Financial Times or enjoy below

🗞️ Driving the news: The UN-coordinated operation to drain the FSO Safer, a stricken oil tanker off the Yemen coast considered a ticking environmental time bomb, is set to commence soon
• The mission includes transferring the roughly 1.1 million barrels of crude from the FSO Safer's tanks to a replacement vessel

🔭 The context: The FSO Safer, one of the largest tankers ever built, has been stationed off Yemen for more than 30 years, used as a storage for the country's oil production
• However, maintenance on the vessel ceased since the Yemen war began in 2015, raising concerns about a potential explosion or the vessel breaking up due to dangerous gas buildup

🌎 Why does it matter for the planet: If the FSO Safer's cargo were to leak, it would result in an environmental catastrophe four times the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989
• Such an event would threaten millions of livelihoods, disrupt shipping lanes, and overwhelm the region's inadequate response capabilities

⏭️ What's next: The "highly complex" operation will proceed with caution, guided by a "three-tier contingency plan" to handle potential spills or a tanker breakup
• If a massive oil spill occurs, an international response, including aircraft and other vessels, will be initiated

💬 One quote: "Things are moving ahead as hoped. As we speak we’re now preparing to move the [new vessel] next to the Safer and to begin to put the pipes from one ship to another" (Achim Steiner, the UN development programme official coordinating the mission)

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