Oil giants behind FSO Safer oil revealed

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Large multinational oil companies, including Western giants ExxonMobil, OMV and TotalEnergies, have been using the stranded FSO Safer as a storage vessel for their operations until as recently as 2015, and are likely to be among those that are responsible for the 1.14 million barrels (140,000 tonnes) of oil currently on the neglected ship, according to a new Greenpeace International investigation.[1]

While the United Nations’ plan to remove the estimated 1.14 million barrels (140,000 tonnes) of oil from the Safer has stalled for many months because of insufficient funding, the companies likely to be responsible for the oil onboard, and their subsidiaries, have announced record profits for Q1 & Q2 2022, but have not yet contributed any funds to ensure the Safer rescue operations could begin and prevent a disaster in the Red Sea.[2][3]

Greenpeace International Project Lead, Paul Horsman, said: “The rusting Safer is a disaster in the making. Yet despite the neglected tanker threatening a human and environmental catastrophe in Yemen and the Red Sea, the oil industry has stayed very quiet, even though the US$75 million cost of the salvage operation is but a drop in the ocean compared to the record profits of the oil supermajors recently announced.”

The publication is the result of Greenpeace International investigations to find out which oil companies were involved in the extraction and export of oil via the Marib – Ras Issa pipeline to the export terminal – the FSO Safer, particularly in the period leading up to March 2015 when the terminal was closed. And consequently, which oil companies bear some responsibility, even if not ownership, for the oil that is currently on board the FSO Safer, or are involved as subsidiaries or partners.

From 2010 to 2015, there were 13 operating oil assets (oil and gas-condensate fields) from five blocks in the Marib Basin. Those likely to be responsible for the oil on the Safer are among the Marib basin producers and their subsidiaries and shareholders from the five blocks that fed the pipeline to the Safer. 

The five blocks included Block S-1 Damis (An Naeem 01); Block S2 Al Uqlah (Al Kharwah); and Block 5 Dev Jannah (Halewah Sabatayn), and the following owners/operators in 2014: 

  • Occidental was the operator (until 2016) and had 75% ownership of the block S-1 Damis (An Naeem 01);
  • OMV was the operator of Block S2 Al Uqlah (Al Kharwah) with a 44% share in ownership;
  • Sinopec Group as parent company had a 37.5% share in ownership of Block S2 Al Uqlah (Al Kharwah) operated by the Austrian company, OMV;
  • TransGlobe Energy Corporation had part ownership (25%) of the block S-1 Damis (An Naeem 01) that was operated by Occidental Petroleum (until 2016);
  • ExxonMobil had a 15% share in ownership of Block 5 Dev Jannah (Halewah Sabatayn); 
  • TotalEnergies had a 15% share in ownership of Block 5 Dev Jannah (Halewah Sabatayn). 

Greenpeace MENA Executive Director, Ghiwa Nakat, said: “The greed of oil giants knows no bounds. While oil companies like ExxonMobil, OMV and TotalEnergies celebrate their massive profits, an unprecedented environmental and humanitarian disaster is looming in Yemen and the Red Sea. Oil companies are making these huge profits on the backs of vulnerable communities in the Global South, with little regard for their lives and the environment – as oil spills and accidents in Thailand, Peru, Ecuador and Nigeria in recent months have reminded us. This really is a perverse colonial attitude, ‘big oil’ firms exploit natural resources, put communities at risk, greenwash and try to cover their tracks, but display a deafening silence when it comes to stepping up and taking responsibility.”

Greenpeace is calling on international oil companies to foot the bill of the Safer salvage plan. These oil companies must also be held accountable for any potential humanitarian and environmental impacts resulting from the FSO Safer, because the financial weight of oil pollution should be carried by polluters, not by people


Notes to Editor:

[1] The results of our investigations were shared on 22nd September with some of the oil companies mentioned in this report, giving them the deadline of Monday 26th September 12:00pm BST to reply.  Answers were received from both OMV and TotalEnergies, and we have listed their comments in an addendum to the investigation report (pages 3 to 5 of the report).

[2] The agreement to undertake this operation followed months of long and difficult negotiations. A plan, coordinated by the UN, has been agreed and aims to remove the oil and make the situation secure from the threat of a spill. It requires funding of US$75million, and the UN announced on 21st September that they had received governments’ pledges to cover the full amount. 

[3] Profits reported for Q1 and Q2 2022 of oil companies responsible for some part of the oil onboard the FSO Safer according to Bloomberg.

Oil Company Country Q1 2022 Profits (USD) Q2 2022 Profits (USD)
Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) US 4.6 billion 3.1 billion
TransGlobe Energy Corporation Canada 24.9 million N/A
OMV Austria 703.5 million 1.6 billion
Sinopec China 3.7billion 1.7 billion
ExxonMobil US 8.8 billion 17.6 billion
TotalEnergies France 10 billion 10.8 billion
Source: financial data analysis accessed from the Bloomberg terminal

ExxonMobil ; TotalEnergies ; Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) ; TransGlobe


Greenpeace MENA: Attila Kulcsar [email protected] +447887788870

Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

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