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The UN Begins Operation to Extract Oil from Decaying Supertanker
A Race Against Time to Avoid a Catastrophic Oil Spill
The UN has initiated a 19-day operation to remove oil from a 47-year-old decaying supertanker, named Safer, in an effort to prevent a potential catastrophic oil spill. The tanker has been stranded off Yemen's Red Sea coast for over eight years due to the civil war in the country, preventing any maintenance on the vessel since 2015. With 1.1 million barrels of oil on board, there are concerns about a spill that could be four times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez leak, which was the second-largest oil spill in US history.
The Potential Impacts of a Spill
The UN estimates that a spill from the Safer tanker could result in $20 billion in cleanup costs and have a severe environmental impact on water and reefs along Yemen's coast. It could also cause disruptions to the Bab al-Mandab strait in the Suez Canal. The UN warns that it would take 25 years for local fish stocks to recover. Given these risks, the operation to transfer the oil to a UN-owned vessel called Yemen is a crucial step in preventing a catastrophic spill. However, the operation still poses significant risks as it takes place in open waters and the Safer tanker's infrastructure is significantly corroded.
The Importance of the Operation
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the urgency of the operation, stating that it is necessary to prevent what could be the worst oil spill of our era. The UN launched its initiative to rescue the oil from the Safer tanker in 2019 but has faced challenges in gaining access to the vessel from Yemen's Houthi rebel group. Despite the risks involved in the operation, the choice to take action is seen as the lesser of two evils, as doing nothing would carry even more significant consequences.
A Call for Continued Action
While the transfer of oil to the Yemen vessel is a crucial step, it is not the end of the operation. The next crucial step is the installation of a CALM buoy to securely tether the replacement vessel. This ongoing effort highlights the importance of continued action in ensuring the safety of the decaying supertanker and the prevention of a potential catastrophic oil spill. Greenpeace MENA's executive director, Ghiwa Nakat, expressed the urgency of the situation, emphasizing the heroic efforts of the small crew working on the tanker and the need for the salvage operation to proceed.
Conclusion: Potential Impact on a New Business
The UN's operation to extract oil from the decaying supertanker, Safer, brings attention to the dire consequences of an oil spill and highlights the need for effective environmental risk management. This topic carries significant implications for businesses, especially those involved in the oil and shipping industries, as well as new ventures looking to enter these sectors.
The potential impact of a catastrophic oil spill, such as the one that could result from the Safer tanker, would be devastating not only to the environment but also to businesses operating in the affected areas. The estimated $20 billion cleanup costs and the long-term environmental damage emphasize the magnitude of financial and reputational risks that businesses could face in such a scenario. Additionally, disruptions to critical trade routes like the Bab al-Mandab strait in the Suez Canal would have significant implications for global shipping and logistics operations.
This situation serves as a reminder for new businesses to prioritize robust risk management strategies, including environmental risk assessments and contingency plans. It is essential to consider the potential consequences of environmental disasters and take proactive measures to prevent or mitigate such risks. This could involve implementing stringent maintenance protocols for aging infrastructure, investing in environmentally sustainable practices, and fostering collaborations with relevant stakeholders to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
In a world increasingly concerned about climate change and environmental sustainability, businesses that prioritize responsible practices and are prepared to handle environmental risks are more likely to gain trust, maintain market stability, and mitigate potential legal and financial repercussions. By acknowledging and responding to the lessons learned from operations like the UN's Safer tanker extraction, new businesses can position themselves as responsible and resilient entities in the face of environmental challenges.
Article First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/25/fso-tanker-safer-un-begins-operation-to-extract-oil-and-avoid-a-catastrophic-oil-spill.html