Floating Storage and Offloading Facility FSO SAFER

Floating Storage and Offloading Facility FSO SAFER
The FSO SAFER, ex. Esso Japan, built as a ULCC 1976 in Japanwas originally owned by Exxon. In 1986 the Yemen Exploration and Production Company YEPCO bought the vessel to be used as FSO for receiving, storing and exporting Marib light crude of Block 18. The vessel has been converted in 1986 in Olsen Korea to FSO and sailed to its final destination about 8km offshore at RAS ISA, Hodeidah, Yemen and since 1987 until now the FSO SAFER is permanently moored at that location.
The FSO SAFE with a dead weight of about 407,000 tons and a storage capacity of about 3 million barrels receives crude oil from the field in Block 18 in Marib via a 428km long pipeline to the shore at RAS ISA and from there it is connected to approx. 8km long submarine pipeline that ends up at the FSO SAFER.
For over 31 years the FSO SAFER is moored at the same location without dry-docking. As per rules Dry-docking is essential every few years to carry out extensive overhauls and renewal of machinery at specialized dry-docks to give the vessel an extended life. This was economically not feasible for the FSO SAFER mainly because it requires hiring another vessel to act as FSO while the SAFER is away for dry-docking which was beyond the capacity of the Yemeni economy. To compensate for that, it was decided to do everything possible to keep the maintenance up to the best level in situ;a strategy that enabled the vessel to get through the strict ABS class surveys and maintain ABS class certification as FSO throughout its operation as FSO since 1987 until the war has broken out in 2015.
SAFER Exploration and Production Operations Company SEPOC as operator, through dedicated efforts of its management and staff took all precautions and measure required and managed to operate for all these years with an excellent safety record without major accidents or major pollutions to the environment.
However, this all has changed since the start of the war in 2005. Maintenance has stopped almost completely mainly due to lack of budget and difficulty to get spare parts and services. The FSO had to be shut down except of a negligible limited number of crew due to lack of fuel oil to run the boilers to produce steam that is necessary to run almost all essential equipment onboard. The FSO is still having 1.14 million barrels stored onboard. This quantity shall explode and set on fire if a small bullet reaches it. Bearing in mind that fighting is taking place onshore not far away from the FSO, the vessel currently represents a bomb waiting for ignition to cause a national, regional and international catastrophe. To make the situation even worse the inert gas that builds the safety blanket on top of crude oil in the cargo tanks leaked out over time and the crude oil stored in the tanks is now at atmospheric pressure which means that even static electricity resulting from oil movement in the tank spaces or any other source of ignition in the surrounding area could lead to explosion. Inert gas is supplied from the flue gases of the boilers when they run through a dedicated IG system but the boilers are now out of service due to lack of fuel oil and no inert gas is produced since few months after the war has started and the fuel oil has come to an end.
An explosion of the FSO would lead to a complete destruction of the FSO, killing of all the crew onboard, leaking of all the crude stored onboard to the sea under a big fire causing a huge pollution, and finally killing all sorts of marine lives for years causing thousands of fishermen and their families to lose their source of income to survive. This will be far beyond Yemen capabilities to do anything about it even at peaceful times and in fact, it will even represent a challenge to combat for the regional and international specialized pollution centers.
SEPOC, therefore has early enough raised the red flag and with this memo SEPOC renews and intensives its warning and appeal to the regional and International Community to consider this dangerous situation with due care and seriousness before it become too late.
In this regard and as last appeal and last warning we urge all, particularly the Coalition, the UN and the UN Security Council, to speed up emptying the FSO SAFER from its crude contents to avoid catastrophe while that is still possible. Failing that, SEPOC holds the Coalition, the UN and the UN Security Council as responsible for anything that happens to the vessel, its crew and the environment.