|Namesake||Safer (صافر Ṣāfar), an oilfield in Yemen|
|Owner||Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation|
|Port of registry||Yemen|
|Builder||Hitachi Zosen Corporation,|
|Identification||IMO number: 7376472|
|Class and type||ULCC|
|Length||362 m (1,188 ft)|
|Beam||70 m (230 ft)|
|Speed||15.5 knots (28.7 km/h)|
Safer was built in 1976 by the Hitachi Zosen Corporation in Japan as the oil tanker Esso Japan. As built, her gross tonnage was 192,679 and deadweight tonnage 406,640 tons. She measured 362 metres (1,188 ft) in length and her beam was 70 metres (230 ft). She was powered by a single steam turbine that gave her a service speed of 15.5 knots (17.8 mph).
In 1987, Esso Japan was converted into an unpropelled storage vessel and renamed Safer. She was moored about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) off the coast of Yemen in 1988 under the ownership of the Yemeni government via the national oil company, which used her to store and export oil from inland oil fields around Ma'rib. In her storage configuration, Safer has a capacity of about three million barrels of oil.
Loss of structural integrity
In March 2015, in the early days of the Yemeni Civil War, Safer fell into the hands of Houthi forces when they took control of the coastline surrounding her mooring. In the following years, her structural condition deteriorated significantly, leading to the risk of a catastrophic hull breach or explosion of oil vapors that would typically be suppressed by inert gas generated on board. The ship is estimated to contain about 1.14 million barrels of oil valued at up to US$80 million, which became a point of contention in negotiations between the Houthi rebels and Yemeni government, both of which asserted claims to the cargo and vessel. In early December 2019, Al Jazeera reported that oil had begun to leak from Safer, though subsequent satellite imagery showed that the report had been inaccurate and there was no sign of oil outflow from the ship.
On 24 September 2020, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations wrote in a letter that experts had observed that "a pipeline attached to the vessel is suspected to have been separated from the stabilizers holding it to the bottom and is now floating on the surface of the sea." In late November, the United Nations and Houthi leadership reached an agreement to allow a UN-led team access to Safer by January 2021 for purposes of inspection and repair. The expedition was delayed indefinitely when the Houthis failed to provide a letter assuring the safety of the UN-led team.
As of October 2021, it was being reported that the FSO Safer was at imminent risk of sinking, fire or explosion. A massive spill would be disastrous, closing the ports of Hudaydah and As-Salif for weeks, disrupting the food aid on which half the population of the country depends. This could also cause a lack of fuel, necessary for pumping or delivering water, and could disrupt desalination plants in the area. A spill would also shut down the fishing industry on which 1.7 million people depend, and could disrupt world trade passing through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
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