Kuwait Oil Spill Remediation Project

Kuwait Oil Spill Remediation Project

During the 1991-1992 Gulf War about 114 square kilometers of Kuwait’s desert environment was severely damaged by detonated oil wells at the hands of Iraqi troops leading to the largest environmental and ecological disaster in Kuwait’s history. About 330 million gallons of oil were spilled on to the sea, which covered more than 4,000 square km with a 4 inch thick oil slick.

Approximately 20-25 million barrels of ignited crude oil were extinguished using 12 billion gallons of seawater collected in artificial pounds to control the fire. The damaged oil wells spilled crude oil across the land surface and created “Oil lakes” in low lying land. The oil lakes covered several square kilometers of northern and southern oil fields. The crude oil released had negative short-term and long-term impacts on physical characteristics of the soil, vegetation, and wildlife and threatening precious groundwater resources. These oil lakes are mostly dry oil materials, but some features still containing semiliquid, oil/sludgy material are referred to as wet oil lakes. In some places, contaminated soil from the oil lakes had been scraped up into oil-contaminated piles. Today, over 26 years later, these large oil lakes and oil contaminated piles (~26 million cubic meters of heavily oil contaminated soils) still exist in KOC oil field areas, and remedial actions are about to begin.

Kuwait Oil Spill Remediation Project

KOC Aerial fall-out from oil spray and combustion products from oil fires and spills combined with regional/local topographic depressions resulted in the formation of large dry oil lakes and tarcrete on the land surface. The damaged oil wells spilled crude oil across the land surface and created “Oil lakes” in low lying land. These oil lakes covered several square km of land in the northern and southern oil fields of Kuwait. Consequently, contaminated soil estimated to be around 26 Million m3 altered desert soil properties and ecological landscape, which caused the deaths of plants and/or animals; and posing a threat to the precious fresh groundwater resources.

Bechtel and an international team from Houston, with 16,000 manpower, needed nine months to cap 650 damaged or burning oil wells in Kuwait.

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