Yemen’s Houthi movement has reached an agreement with the United Nations (UN) to cope with a decaying oil tanker that threatens to leak 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the war-torn country’s coast, according to a Houthi spokesperson.
Last month, UN assistance director Martin Griffiths stated that an agreement in principle had been reached to transfer the oil from the tanker “Safer” to another vessel.
The Safer has been stranded for more than six years off the coast of Yemen’s Red Sea oil port at Ras Issa, and UN authorities have warned that it might spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska.
“A memorandum of understanding has been signed with the United Nations for the “Safer” tanker,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, said in a Twitter post late on Saturday.
The Houthis, who are fighting Yemen’s internationally recognized government, have control of the mooring area and the national oil company that owns the tanker.
A contract had already been negotiated for a technical UN team to evaluate the aging vessel, which was built in 1976, and makes whatever repairs were possible, but final logistical plans never materialized.
No maintenance operations have been carried out on the “Safer” since 2015.