New Dutch donation to bridge funding gap, allowing UN to embark on salvage ops for ‘ticking timebomb’ in Red Sea

With the oil transfer completed, the final destination of FSO Safer remains unknown

The successful completion of the oil transfer operation from the FSO Safer marks a significant milestone in averting a potential environmental and humanitarian catastrophe in the Red Sea. However, the mission is far from over, as the next crucial steps involve making a decision that would ensure the safe and responsible dismantling of the supertanker.

FSO Safer; Source: Office of UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen

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Several shipbreaking yards in India and Bangladesh along with major cash buyers have already expressed interest in scrapping the FSO Safer. Namely, shipping broker Clarkson, on behalf of the UNDP, has already received bids for the towing and scrapping of the vessel. 

However, many yards from this region are notorious for their beaching of ships, and poor environmental and work safety practices.

The move has sparked strong opposition from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have called upon the UNDP to find a comprehensive solution that effectively mitigates the inherent risks linked with the dismantling process and the subsequent management of hazardous materials aboard the FSO Safer.

They have also urged the Dutch government, a significant contributor to the Stop Red Sea Oil Pollution initiative, to join this endeavor and collaborate with the UNDP in locating an appropriate recycling facility for the responsible disposal of the vessel.

Meanwhile, Netherlands-based Elegant Exit Company (EEC), a company specializing in sustainable ship recycling, has expressed its interest in responsibly recycling the FSO Safer.

EEC is proposing to bring the decaying super tanker Bahrain for dismantling at Arabian Shipbuilding & Repair Yard (ASRY), EEC’s partner. The Dutch startup said that both ASRY and the Kingdom of Bahrain have pledged their support to recycling of the FSO Safer.

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.

Last week, EEC urged Clarksons to openly state whether FSO Safer must be deliberately grounded or not as opposed to available alternative choices. A decision is also expected on whether FSO Safer should be transported to Europe as the preferred course of action, even when considering other available options within the region.

Considering that recycling requires preparation time, there’s no valid reason to delay actions on these two major aspects of the operation, EEC said, cautioning over the potential repetition of the Sao Paulo incident which resulted in the sinking of ex-Sao Paolo aircraft on the bottom of the Atlantic by the Brazilian navy despite environmental concerns as the ship contained asbestos.

“Given the ongoing tender for the FSO Safer’s Green Ship Recycling, we suggest using the Swiss Challenge process. EEC’s proposal sets the standard, and other bidders can compete by matching or improving upon it. This method fosters competition, quality, and transparency in the selection process,” EEC said.

EEC has created the Ship to Green Steel (S2GS) model- a coalition, including shipyards, ministries, and waste management and steel-making companies, to implement a sustainable solution for recycling the FSO Safer.

The company’s proposal offers 150 USD per LT Net weight, plus profit share linked to actual performance and ethical standards.

Under the proposal, the recycling proceeds would be based on transparent calculations, ethical practices, ESG performance, “No Beaching” approach, and accountable scrap reuse.