Saudi Arabia warns of 'oil spot' seen near Yemen's decaying Safer tanker


NEW YORK — An "oil spot" has been spotted close to an abandoned tanker off the western coast of Yemen, Saudi Arabia warned the United Nations Security Council late on Wednesday.

The “oil spot” seen in a shipping transit area 50 km west of the decaying hulk sparks fears that a leak could cause environmental devastation along the Red Sea.

The Safer tanker has been stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years. The United Nations has warned that the Safer could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska.

Drawing the attention of the 15-member body, Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi wrote a letter saying that experts had observed that “a pipeline attached to the vessel is suspected to have been separated from the stabilizers holding it to the bottom and is now floating on the surface of the sea.”

The United Nations has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen’s Houthis to send a mission to the Safer tanker to conduct a technical assessment and whatever initial repairs might be feasible. — Agencies