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GCC chief urges global pressure on Houthis to avert Safer oil tanker catastrophe

Published: Updated:

The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for Arab States has called on the international community to pressure Yemen’s Houthi militia to allow a UN team to examine the Safer oil tanker as soon as possible to avoid an imminent environmental and economic catastrophe.

Dr. Nayef bin Falah al-Hajraf made the remarks on Wednesday while receiving Janet Alberda, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council on Wednesday that an “oil spot” had been seen in a shipping transit area 31 miles (50 km) west of a decaying tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Yemen.

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

Last year in September, Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council that an “oil spot” had been seen in a shipping transit area 31 miles (50 km) west of a decaying tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Yemen.

Houthi officials had earlier said they would agree to allow a UN mission to conduct a technical assessment and whatever initial repairs might be feasible on the Safer tanker but the world body was yet to be given formal authorization.

During the meeting, Dr. al-Hajraf and the Netherlands envoy discussed issues of mutual interest, areas of cooperation between the GCC and Netherlands, and exchanging of views to enhance bilateral ties in a way that serves joint interests.

Maritime waterway safety

The meeting also addressed regional developments related to accidents in the Gulf of Oman, where both sides highlighted the importance of guaranteeing the security and safety of maritime waterway, in addition to holding the perpetrators responsible for these accidents according to the international law, to ensure the non-recurrence of such attacks.

Read more:

Yemen fuel tanker FSO Safer could ‘explode at any moment’: Greenpeace

Saudi Arabia warns UN of oil spot near decaying Safer tanker off Yemen’s coast

UN urges Iran-backed Houthis to grant access to abandoned ‘Safer’ oil tanker in Yemen