EEC expresses interest in recycling FSO Safer as salvage operation moves forward
Netherlands-based Elegant Exit Company (EEC), which specializes in the sustainable recycling of veteran ships by converting them into green steel, has voiced interest in recycling FSO Safer.
The rapidly decaying supertanker is at the center of a United Nations-led mission worth over $100 million to prevent a massive oil spill off Yemen.
“Given our shared objectives, we would like to express our sincere interest in collaborating with the United Nations and take charge of the vessel’s recycling process. Leveraging our extensive experience and unwavering dedication to environmental preservation, we are confident in our ability to deliver a comprehensive and innovative recycling solution,” EEC said.
“Our team and partners possess the necessary expertise in converting materials into new green steel, ensuring that the entire recycling process adheres to sustainable and eco-friendly practices. By undertaking this endeavor, we aim to set a new benchmark for responsible maritime practices, inspiring others to follow suit.”
The Dutch startup said that the Kingdom of Bahrain has pledged its support to EEC for the recycling of vessels, including the FSO Safer. The company added that the process would be supported by the Arabian Shipbuilding & Repair Yard (ASRY) in Bahrain, which has expressed its readiness to accept the FSO Safer for recycling.
As explained, ASRY stands as the sole facility in the Gulf region with all the necessary licenses and certifications, meeting international standards like the Hong Kong Convention (HKC) and the European Union Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR).
The process would also enjoy support from Crown Industries, a licensed and certified entity specializing in managing both hazardous and normal waste tasks, and SULB, Bahrain’s progressive steel producer that would ensure the production of new steel minimizes the carbon footprint as much as possible.
“We can also rely on the strong support and expertise of Captain Adullah Al Hayyas, the Director of Maritime Transport, UAE Ministry of Energy & Infrastructure. His firsthand experience from the “Maersk Honam” case ensures our full compliance with the Basel Convention in ship recycling, whether it takes place in Bahrain or the UAE,” EEC said.
The vessel has been moored about nine kilometers off Yemen’s Ras Issa peninsula, where it has been since 1988. FSO Safer has not been maintained since 2015 because of the conflict in Yemen, and it has decayed to the point where there is an imminent risk it could explode or break apart, which would have disastrous effects on the region.
A potential oil spill from FSO Safer would devastate local fishing communities, risking 200,000 livelihoods as toxic pollutants would be released into the water and the air. The spill would close the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, crucial for food and supplies to 17 million people. It could reach the African coast, harming coral reefs and marine life. Recovery of fish stocks would take 25 years, compounding economic devastation. Cleanup costs of $20 billion and disruptions to global trade through the Bab al-Mandab strait would further add to the impact.
UN Development Programme (UNDP) has contracted the global leading marine salvage company SMIT to ready the Safer and safely carry out the ship-to-ship transfer of the oil. Dutch offshore services provider Boskalis has been entrusted to carry out a thorough inspection of the vessel and its cargo prior to starting salvage operations to transfer the oil from this tanker to VLCC the Nautica, bought in March by UNDP from Euronav.
Boskalis’ multipurpose vessel Ndeavor berthed alongside the FSO Safer in early June, after which SMIT Salvage took gas measurements to assess the presence of toxic gas in and around the vessel. After the ship was declared “safe to access”, a number of operational steps were initiated. This included loading of mobile inert gas generators and conducting inspections of the FSO and its deck machinery as well as structural hull assessments. Inspections of the deck machinery and the structural integrity of the hull are underway.
As informed, inert gas generators were transferred from the Ndeavor onto the Safer. The level of oxygen and other flammable gases in each of the oil tank compartments must be reduced by pumping inert gas into the compartments before the tanks can be declared safe for the ship-to-ship transfer of the oil.
“As part of the preparations, the inspection of the manifold on board the FSO has also commenced. In parallel to these activities, a mobile fixed staircase was built to facilitate easy and safe access between the Ndeavor and the Safer. Overall, the first phase of the operation including these inspections and preparing the Safer for the ship-to-ship transfer of the oil are progressing well,” Boskalis said.
Meanwhile, UNDP announced today the successful binding of insurance coverage for the mission, a pivotal milestone in enabling the ship-to-ship transfer operation.
“Insurance became a critical element of enabling this salvage operation to proceed. Without it, the mission could not go forward. UNDP has been broadening and deepening its work with the global insurance community over recent years. That collaboration is delivering impact in many ways. We are especially grateful to Howden for facilitating this process with the insurance industry on this critical initiative to ensure that coverage has been secured in the most challenging of contexts,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.
UNDP was able to bind coverage with support from its Insurance and Risk Finance Facility. More than 100 individual underwriters have been involved in the issuance of an exceptionally specialised set of policies covering FSO Safer, the STS operation, and the replacement vessel. Howden, appointed in open tender as UNDP’s broker, packaged, structured, and then syndicated the various risks across thirteen insurers in the Lloyd’s, London and P&I markets.
While the FSO Safer project is a very important, urgent and high-profile example, Jan Kellett, Head of the IRFF, drew attention to the fact that embedding insurance-thinking into development cannot be limited to individual interventions.