Boskalis’ subsidiary Smit Salvage has removed all oil from the FSO Safer, located off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea. During this United Nations (UN) coordinated operation, over 1.1 million barrels of oil were successfully transferred to a safe modern tanker moored alongside the FSO Safer.
The successful completion of this complex operation has averted a major disaster that would have had huge humanitarian, environmental and economic consequences.
‘I am very pleased that we have succeeded in removing the oil from the FSO Safer and transferring it to a modern double hulled tanker,’ says Peter Berdowski, CEO Boskalis. ‘With our salvage activities, we have once again averted a potential environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions. Thanks in part to the efforts of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and over two years of preparations by Boskalis, we were able to successfully execute this complex operation on behalf of the United Nations. I would like to compliment our salvage experts in particular for successfully carrying out the work under very challenging conditions in the Red Sea.’
From preparation to green scrapping yard
Leading up to the transfer of the oil, the 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. In addition, various measures were taken to ensure a safe working environment.
Preparations were then made to transfer the oil to the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Nautica purchased by the UN and renamed Yemen. The VLCC was moored alongside the FSO Safer on 23 July 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 25 July and hydraulic pumps were installed to transfer the oil to the VLCC.
The remaining activities of Smit Salvage include the cleaning of the tanks, which is expected to take approximately one week. The FSO Safer will be prepared for transport to a green scrapping yard under the responsibility of the UN.
The Safer is a Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) facility moored approximately 9 kilometres off the Red Sea coast of Yemen and 50 kilometres northeast of the port of Hodeida. Constructed in 1976 as an oil tanker and converted in 1987 to be a floating storage facility, the Safer is single-hulled and contained around 1.14 million barrels of light crude oil.
The FSO 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, which would have disastrous environmental and humanitarian effects on the region.