These contributions were pledged at a conference organized by the Dutch government and the United Nations.
There is now $40 million available for the operation. This includes previously committed funds. The decaying tanker contains four times the amount of oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez. It could break or explode at any time.
The conference marked the start of efforts to raise the $144 million needed for the plan, including $80 million for an emergency operation to transfer the oil to a safe temporary vessel. The installation of long-term replacement capacity is also essential to the success of the plan.
“Today was an important step in eliminating the threat posed by the FSO Safer. During today’s event, we managed to raise a significant sum. We will continue to support the UN in May to raise the remaining funds needed. Many countries are showing great interest in joining the effort. I hope we get there,” said Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher.
The Netherlands pledged nearly $8 million. Other donors that signed pledges were Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Qatar, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
Risk of humanitarian and environmental catastrophe
An oil spill would be a humanitarian and environmental disaster and cost the region tens of billions of dollars in cleanup and economic costs. More than 200,000 Yemenis working in the fishing industry could lose their livelihoods overnight, tourism would be affected as far as Egypt and shipping could be disrupted by the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Suez Canal . The environmental damage in the Red Sea and its coasts would be severe.
“We are grateful to the donors who committed funds today at very short notice and look forward to receiving further commitments from those who have not yet committed. When we have the funding, the work can begin,” said David Gressly, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen.
“Today marks a strong launch of our efforts to ensure the success of the project, including outreach to the private sector. We must work quickly to secure the remaining funds to start the four-month operation within the weather window we have ahead of us,” he added.
The operation envisaged includes the installation of a replacement vessel or of equivalent capacity and the emergency operation of transferring the hydrocarbons to a safe temporary vessel. The plan would cover the salaries of a crew to maintain the temporary leased vessel until the long-term solution is implemented.
“Timeline and funding are both critical. If we do not receive sufficient funding urgently, the weather window to transfer oil will close. In October, high winds and volatile currents make the operation more dangerous and increase the risk of the vessel breaking up,” said Auke Lootsma, UNDP Resident Representative in Yemen.