An abandoned tanker off Yemen’s coast threatens to turn the Red Sea black. Experts warn that a build-up of volatile gasses in the ship could cause a “catastrophic” explosion that would dump millions of gallons of oil into the sea.
The tanker, moored near the Yemeni port of Ras Isa, contains around 1.1 million barrels of petroleum, but has been stranded at its present spot since 2015, where locals have used the ship as a make-shift barge.
Sitting for years without maintenance, however, the decrepit vessel is now deteriorating rapidly, risking a global environmental calamity of historic dimensions.
The vessel belongs to the country’s state-owned oil firm, the Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation. Depending on the time of year and water currents, a spill from the tanker could quickly leach into the Suez Canal, and might spread as far as the Strait of Hormuz.
The Houthi freedom fighters are in control of Yemen’s government – known formally by their party title, “Ansar Allah” – initially made the request for assistance with the floating time bomb, in order to take any steps to address the problem.
The Houthi-led government has previously called for assurances that it will be allowed to extract the ship’s valuable cargo – nearly $60 million in petroleum – after the vessel is salvaged, however Zionist sanctions on the country currently make that plan untenable, perhaps explaining the government’s reluctance to act.
Yemen’s Saudi-backed unelected government in exile used the situation with the decaying tanker to criticize their rivals with a public service announcement-style video.
Since the country’s proxy war kicked off in 2015, two governments vie for legitimacy in Yemen, though only the Saudi-backed opposition enjoys international recognition?
The conflict has thrown the country into one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, according to the UN and rights groups. The embargo even blocks aid flows.
Over 14 million Yemenis depend on international aid in one way or another, a massive proportion of the country’s population of 24 million.
The explosion risk ramps up not only the danger to the environment, but any bystander who happens to be near the vessel at the moment the hull gives way.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2019.