Video: First Third of Crude Oil Successfully Transferred from FSO Safer

Safer oil transfer
SMIT reports the transfer is going well from the Safer to the Yemen (Boskalis)

Published Jul 31, 2023 2:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

The oil transfer from the derelict FSO Safer off the coast of Yemen is proceeding well according to updates from the United Nations and Boskalis. The team from SMIT Salvage began the ship-to-ship transfer at the beginning of last week and they are now reporting that more than a third of the crude oil has been transferred without incident.

The pumping operation began on July 25 after nearly two months of on-site preparation. The replacement tanker Yemen was positioned alongside the FSO Safer and they began removing the approximately 1.4 million barrels of oil that has been stored on the vessel since 2015. News of the start of the transfer was widely hailed by countries across the region and around the world which have supported the project.

SMIT reports to pump the oil to the Yemen, hydraulic pumps are lowered into each tank on the FSO Safer. During the transfer operation, inert gas is supplied to keep the tank atmosphere at safe levels during the operation. This is begin done with a portable system because the gas system on the vessel had stopped functioning long ago with reports that the tanks had not been properly vented. This was one of the factors raising concern for the potential of a catastrophic explosion on the Safer.


(Video courtesy of Boskalis)


The operation began with two of the central tanks of the Safer and within two days the UN was reporting that 223,000 barrels of oil had been safely removed. Over the weekend, they reported that the first phase of the transfer has been completed. On July 30, UN officials reported that 360,000 barrels, which represents a third of the oil stored on the Safer had been transferred to the Yemen

Boskalis in its latest update confirmed that “the oil transfer is progressing well and will take two to three weeks.” Once all the pumpable oil has been removed from the Safer, a layer of thick oil will remain on the bottom of the tanks. This layer will be removed by a mobile spray tank cleaning machine, which will clean the inside of the tanks in an operation that is expected to take two to three weeks.

Two other phases include the installation of the mooring for the Yemen which will remain at the site as a replacement for the Safer. In addition, the Safer will be prepared for removal so that the vessel can be recycled before its decaying structure fails. UN officials had initially hoped to repair the Safer but later reported that the vessel was in an advanced stage of decay meaning that it was past repair and required replacement.