According to Achim Steiner, administrator of the UN Development Programme, which oversaw attempts to recover the oil, “It is a major moment of having averted a potentially catastrophic disaster,” via Reuters.
For years, UN officials and a number of activist organisations have warned that the deteriorating Safer vessel off the coast of Yemen’s Red Sea is at risk of rupturing or exploding, which would have serious humanitarian and environmental repercussions for the whole Red Sea coastline.
Since the start of the Saudi led collation war in late 2014, the cargo ship, which has been moored off Yemen for more than 30 years, has not received appropriate maintenance.
Until the very last second, according to Steiner, “we looked at this operation as one that had to ensure the highest degree of preparedness and risk mitigation.”
The UN representative explained how the organisation had gathered more than $120 million to pay for the operation, which also necessitated the purchase of a second ship to transport the petroleum and mitigation measures ready in case of spill.
The salvage crew took 18 days to complete the transfer of oil in a coastal zone, littered with sea mines, working amid sweltering summer temperatures and strong currents.
“The best end to the story will be when that oil actually is sold and leaves the region altogether,” Steiner said. The warring sides in the Yemen conflict had blamed each other for obstructing efforts to safely remove the oil.
However, there is still no firm indication as to how a transaction involving the oil will be processed. UN officials are set to begin negotiations with the conflicting groups in Yemen to determine a proceed-sharing deal for the crude, which is majority owned by the Yemen state gas and oil company SEPOC, Reuters said on Friday.
Together with a number of its friends, the US and several other Western nations provided Saudi Arabia with military and logistical support as it began its destructive war against Yemen in March 2015.
The goal was to install the former Riyadh-backed dictatorship in power and dismantle the Houthis movement, which had been in charge of running the country’s affairs because Yemen lacked a functioning government.
Despite killing tens of thousands of Yemenis and causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the war has ended far short of all of its objectives.
In response to the Saudi-led invasion, Yemeni forces have gotten stronger, moving closer to key areas held by Saudi-led mercenaries, such as Ma’rib province, and engaging in numerous rounds of combat.