RIYADH — Saudi Arabia welcomed the United Nations’ initiative to implement an operational plan to solve the problem of the Saffer floating oil tanker and to start unloading its cargo of crude oil, which is estimated at 1.14 million barrels. “The Kingdom would continue its efforts to work with the United Nations and the Yemeni government to end the oil tanker problem,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The ministry welcomed the success of the international efforts and endeavors of the United Nations during the past years, and that culminated in the start of unloading the floating tanker and averting a marine environmental disaster that threatens maritime security and the global economy in the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia appreciated the efforts of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN working team, who worked to harness all efforts to end this huge environmental problem. Saudi Arabia is one of the first donor countries to provide financial grants to Yemen through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) as part of its efforts along with the international community to solve this problem.

The ministry expressed the Kingdom’s hope that the unloading of the tanker will soon be completed through using an alternative ship in line with the UN operational plan. It also thanked the leadership of the Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen for its support to facilitate the arrival of the ship to start the unloading process.

It is noteworthy that the UN recently announced the purchase of an alternative tanker to empty the crude oil. The UN Development Program had signed an agreement with the Euronav company operating in the field of maritime transport to purchase a large crude oil tanker.

The rusting oil tanker Saffer is located less than five nautical miles off the coast of Yemen. After plying the seas for six years, the ship was converted in 1987 into a floating storage-and-offloading facility — cheaper than an onshore terminal — linked by pipeline to the Yemeni oilfields in Marib. Since 2015, operations have been disrupted by the country’s civil war. A skeleton crew maintains the ship, which is steadily corroding and could break apart at any moment.

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