Yemen’s Houthis have said they won’t be responsible if an aging oil vessel anchored near the war-torn country’s coast starts leaking crude into the Red Sea.
“We unhand our responsibility of any leakage from Safer tanker and we call for negotiation over this issue in a serious manner,” said Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Houthi ruling political council, in a statement.
The decaying tanker has been moored off the Houthi-controlled province of Hodiedah since 1988 and is still carrying oil that was on board when civil war broke out in 2015.
Yemen’s United Nations-recognized government has repeatedly said the rebels would be to blame for any leakages because it’s in a Houthi-controlled area. It has also said the Houthis refused to let a UN team visit and assess the condition of the Safer floating storage tanker, which contains over 1 million barrels of crude.
But Al-Houthi said the U.S. and Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting the Houthis, would be at fault if the ship started leaking because they’ve prevented the Houthis from selling the tanker’s oil.
Before Yemen’s civil war halted its oil exports, the Safer tanker received crude from Marib, the country’s main producing area, before loading it onto vessels.