Boskalis removes all oil from decaying FSO Safer offshore Yemen

Aug. 11, 2023
Boskalis, through subsidiary SMIT Salvage, has removed all oil from the decaying FSO Safer off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea.

Boskalis, through subsidiary SMIT Salvage, has removed all oil from the decaying FSO Safer off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea.

During the operation, over 1.1 million bbl of oil was successfully transferred to the Yemen Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) (formerly known as Nautica), a modern double hulled tanker moored alongside the FSO Safer, Boskalis said in a release Aug. 11.

Less than 2% of the original oil cargo remains mixed in with sediment that will be removed during the final cleaning of the FSO tanks, the United Nations said in a separate release.

SMIT Salvage expects the cleaning to take about 1 week to complete. The FSO Safer will be prepared for transport to a scrap yard under the responsibility of the UN (OGJ Online, Apr. 24, 2023).

The successful completion of the operation has prevented a disaster with serious humanitarian, environmental, and economic consequences, the service provider said.

Countries, private companies, and members of the public have contributed over $115 million toward the UN-coordinated plan to prevent the spill, but more is needed. On July 25, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged donors to contribute as he anticipates about $20 million is needed to finish the project, “which includes cleaning and scrapping the FSO Safer and removing any remaining environmental threat to the Red Sea.”

Leading up to the oil transfer, the Boskalis salvage team executed several preparatory activities. After the Boskalis multipurpose support vessel Ndeavor arrived at the site of the FSO Safer in late May, the salvage team conducted a thorough inspection of the vessel and its cargo. Preparations were made to transfer the oil to the VLCC purchased by the UN.

The VLCC was moored alongside the FSO Safer on July 23 with the support from two Smit Lamnalco tugs, and oil screens were installed on the bow and stern between the two tankers as a precautionary measure. Following this mooring operation, oil transfer pipes were connected between the FSO Safer and the VLCC on July 25 and hydraulic pumps were installed to transfer the oil to the VLCC.

The FSO Safer is moored about 9 km off the Red Sea coast of Yemen and 50 km northeast of the port of Hodeida. Constructed in 1976 as an oil tanker and converted in 1987 to be a floating storage vessel, the Safer is single-hulled and contained around 1.14 million barrels of light crude oil. It had not been maintained since 2015 because of the conflict in Yemen and had decayed to the point where there was a risk it could explode or break apart.