The appeal to raise $80 million to prevent an oil slick disaster off Yemen has come a little closer following a $1.2mn donation from HSA Group.
The company, Yemen’s largest, is the first private organisation to donate to the United Nations appeal, it said.
HSA said the UN had now received $64mn in pledges from governments. It needs less than $16mn to launch the first phase of the FSO Safer project.
The first phase involves the extraction of the roughly 1 million barrels of crude that remains in the FSO Safer’s tanks.
Maintenance on the vessel has been neglected since 2015. The FSO has become a pawn in the Yemen conflict, with the Houthi rebels having obstructed efforts to tackle the problem.
HSA warned the vessel was deteriorating and “could disintegrate or explode at any time, with its oil cargo spilling into the Red Sea”.
Time is running out
Carrying out the work would be Boskalis, via its Smit unit. The UN has warned that delays would see weather risks increase.
An oil spill would see local problems for those in Yemen, but would also lead to disruption of shipping through the Red Sea. The cost to clean up a spill might be $20 billion, according to some estimates. However, the impact on disrupted logistics would be higher still.
“HSA has closely followed the campaign led by the UN and the generous donations pledged by the international community. Given that there remains a large funding shortfall, and time is running out, HSA believes that the private sector must step forward,” said the company’s managing director in Yemen Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam.
“We hope that this first donation from the private sector may serve to encourage other companies across the world to contribute to the UN’s response and avert this potentially catastrophic crisis.”
The UK pledged an initial sum of £4mn, increasing this to £6mn in July.
A second phase would require a further investment of $64mn.