Amsterdam – Meeting at the UN pledge conference to salvage the FSO Safer oil tanker, countries like the Netherlands, France, Finland, Germany, Qatar, Sweden, the UK and others committed a total covering only half of the required US$80million needed to get the oil transferred from the rusting Safer currently anchored 6km (4 miles) off the coast of Yemen to another tanker. The funds agreed today should be enough to launch the rescue operation in the coming weeks, but a total of US$80 million is needed to ensure that the salvage operation is completed safely and in time by October to avoid adverse weather and current conditions.
Commenting on the UN conference outcomes, Ghiwa Nakat, Executive Director at Greenpeace MENA, said: “Enough delays: countries must put their money where their mouths are to ensure the oil on board the Safer is transferred to safety, swiftly and securely. Governments took promising steps, and they need to keep building on this. While some countries like France, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Qatar, Sweden, the UK and others have committed to provide the funding needed, according to the United Nations, the full amount required has not been pledged, and with each day the Safer situation deteriorates. As we wait for the funds to become available, it is crucial that oil spill response equipment such as containment booms be deployed in case of a spill and that communities are informed about the dangers.”
The US$80 million would cover costs including a chartered tanker, inspection of the Safer, bringing in the necessary equipment, transfer of the oil, and cleaning of the Safer’s tanks.
The 1.1 million barrels (140,000 tonnes) of oil on the Safer could leak at any moment threatening to exacerbate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the livelihoods and health of poor coastal communities in Yemen and neighbouring countries, and would devastate the fragile environment of the Red Sea.
While US$80 million needed to rescue the Safer sounds like a lot of money, it is a drop in the ocean compared to the subsidies that governments give to oil corporations. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), *”oil remains the most subsidised fuel” and G20 governments subsidies to fossil fuels average US$405billion a year. 
The funds needed to secure the Safer operation are also much less than the profits made by the major oil companies. In the same month when the pledging conference is happening, several oil companies are holding their AGMs and announcing their profits.
For the first 3 months of 2022 – Q1 :
- BP – AGM May 12, profits = $6.2billion
- ConocoPhillips – AGM May 10, profits = $8billion**
- Chevron – AGM May 25, profits = $6.3billion
- ExxonMobil – AGM May 24, profits = $5.48 billion
- Shell – AGM May 24, profits = $9.1 billion
- TotalEnergies – AGM May 28, profits = $9billion
** the last 3 months (Q4) of 2021
Oil poses a risk from its extraction to transportation and eventual end use as a major source of carbon emissions causing climate change. Instead of spending billions of dollars annually supporting fossil fuel corporations, governments must phase out fossil fuels, such as oil, and shift to renewable energy sources that are safe, sustainable and economically viable.