Insurance broker Howden approached the London marine market last year to rally support for a United Nations project to remove 1m barrels of oil from an ageing ultra-large crude carrier wreck described as a ticking time bomb.

At the time, it looked like underwriters might need a lot of convincing to get involved in covering the possible liabilities linked to a ship-to-ship transfer from the decaying 407,000-dwt FSO Safer (built 1976).