FSO Safer operation

Statement by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

17 August 2023 

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said:  

“I wholeheartedly welcome the successful transfer of oil from the FSO Safer, completing the transfer of the oil cargo to prevent an environmental disaster off the coast of Yemen.  IMO has been pleased to provide technical support over several years, in particular for oil spill contingency planning as well as a broad array of maritime issues. I congratulate all involved and thank the donors who made this possible.” 

“Now we look forward to the next stage of the operation, including the safe recycling of the FSO Safer. I encourage further donations so that the UN-led project to remove any remaining environmental threat to the Red Sea can be completed.” 


IMO has played a key supporting role in the United Nations-coordinated initiative aimed at preventing an oil spill from the FSO Safer, which has been moored off the coast of Yemen since 1988, serving as a floating storage and offloading unit. Due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, all production and export operations related to FSO Safer were suspended in 2015, with around 150,000 MT (around 1.1 million barrels) of crude oil remaining onboard.  

Prior to July this year, the FSO Safer had not been inspected or maintained since 2015 and has been out of class since 2016. This led to serious concerns about its integrity. The risks related to possible structural failure or explosion (due to the nature of the degrading cargo) - which could have led to a major humanitarian and environmental disaster in the region.  

Since the plans to address the FSO Saferwere initiated by the UN in 2019, IMO has been supporting the project on an array of maritime issues relevant to the "Operational Plan", notably oil spill contingency planning efforts, resource procurement, contracting of specialist personnel, and ship chartering, ownership, registration and insurance  

Under the UN initiative, the marine salvage company SMIT, a subsidiary of Boskalis, was contracted to inspect and ready the FSO Safer and carry out a ship-to-ship transfer of the oil to the replacement tanker, the  MOST Yemen.  This has now been completed.  

The next critical step will be the instalment of a mooring point attached to the pipeline to which the MOST Yemen can then be safely tethered. The aim is to complete this work by September to take advantage of the climatic conditions in the summer months.  

Negotiations are continuing to resolve legal issues concerning the future sale of the transferred oil so that the proceeds can be used to benefit the people of Yemen.  

The overall cost of the operation is over $140 million, with some $20 million still needed.