Dutch company Smit Salvage is expected to start work within weeks to lift 1.14m barrels of oil from a decaying ship off Yemen’s coast, according to United Nations and Dutch officials.

The Boskalis-owned salvage company has been lined up to stabilise the 407,000-dwt FSO Safer (built 1976) in a four-month operation to prepare for the oil to be removed.

Contracts have yet to be signed but a senior UN official said: “It’ll take a few weeks to get teams on the ground.”