United Nations Takes Next Major Step to Prevent Catastrophic Oil Spill in Red Sea

The UN Development Programme has contracted the Boskalis subsidiary SMIT Salvage to transfer 1 million barrels of oil off a decaying tanker. The team’s vessel Ndeavor sets sail to the Red Sea today. Funding is urgently required.

April 30, 2023


Tehran, Iran, 24 April 2023 – In the latest critical step towards preventing a massive oil spill off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, the global leading maritime services company Boskalis’s support vessel Ndeavor will sail en route to the Red Sea in the coming hours. 

On Wednesday, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) finalized the contract for the Boskalis subsidiary SMIT Salvage to transfer the million barrels of oil aboard the FSO Safer to a safe replacement vessel and prepare the Safer for towing to a green scrapping yard. 

The work off Yemen’s Ras Isa peninsula is expected to begin in May. UNDP earlier secured the replacement vessel, Nautica, which will take on the oil from the Safer. 

“The agreement today between UNDP and Boskalis subsidiary SMIT Salvage, to deploy a team of leading experts aboard the Ndeavour marks another critical milestone of the ‘Stop Red Sea Spill’ operation to transfer oil from the decaying FSO Safer to a safe temporary vessel,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.  “We look forward to be working with Boskalis and other leading experts to prevent a humanitarian, environmental and economic disaster.  We also appeal to leaders from governments and corporations to step forward and help us raise the remaining $29 million required to complete this complex rescue operation." 

“This operation highlights the unique role the UN can play to address the world’s seemingly intractable problems. UNDP and other partners inside and outside the UN should be proud of their roles in getting us this far,” said David Gressly, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “However, we urgently need to close the $29 million funding gap for the emergency operation and raise the additional funds needed to ensure safe long-term storage of the oil.” 

The multipurpose support vessel Ndeavor, which will sail with its crew and experts, is loaded with generators, hydraulic pumps and other specialized equipment to carry out the operation on the Safer, which no longer has functioning systems.

The United Nations has received firm funding commitments of $99.6 million. The total budget for this first phase is $129 million, leaving a gap of $29.4 million. An estimated $19 million is required for the second phase of the operation. 

To fill the budget gap, the UN is appealing to Member States and private entities, as well as the global public through a crowdfunding appeal to which thousands of individuals have already contributed. 

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