EXCLUSIVE: Kuwait Gulf War clean-up set for 2018 start

01 August 2017

The Iraqi-funded remediation project is estimated to be worth $3bn

State upstream operator Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) has further extended the tender closing date for the project management contract for the $3bn post-Gulf War environmental clean-up and is targeting mobilisation of work early next year.

Companies are now invited to place their bids by 14 August. The operator had earlier invited bids on 30 July, which was an extension of an earlier mid-July deadline.

“We received a lot of queries and by the time we answered all of them we reached closer to the extended bid submission deadline, so we’re giving pre-qualified contractors more time to work,” Saad al-Saad, senior technical consultant with Kuwait National Focal Point (KNFP), which oversees the remediation, works told MEED.

“We expect to award the contracts by end of the year and sign agreements by early next year.

Mobilisation of the project will begin by end of the first quarter of 2018,” he added.

KOC tendered the project management contract in April for the scheme overseeing the clean-up of contaminated soils and unexploded ordnance left behind by retreating Iraqi army forces during the 1990-91 Gulf War. It has tendered work on the contaminated soil southeastern Burgan field separately, for which 71 companies have been invited to participate. The bid submission deadline for the package is also 14 August.

Approximately 114 square kilometres of Kuwaiti desert surface remains contaminated by the burning of nearly 700 oil wells, which were set on fire by the troops forced into a retreat by the US-led operation Desert Storm in 1991.

The fires, which burnt for nearly 10 months clouded Gulf skies with soot rising up to 22,000 feet, caused widespread environmental land and air issues.

Efforts to clean up wet and dry oil lakes, formed by discharge from damaged well heads, oil trenches filled with crude by Iraqi forces, spills near aquifers, as well as unexploded ordnance, has taken a long time.

According to the latest tender, pre-qualified firms will be contracted to provide project management and consultancy services to oversee environmental remediation as well as restoration projects in the Northern and South Eastern parts of the country.

“The remediation programme will be divided into three packages and the contracts will be awarded to different contractors,” explained al-Saad.

Among the pre-qualified bidders are firms from South Korea, including SK Engineering, GS Engineering and Samsung Engineering, the US’ Halliburton, India’s The Energy and Resources Institute, Italy’s Saipem, and Canada’s SNC Lavalin.

A source said Saipem would not participate in the tender.

The scope of the project includes:

  • Clearance of unexploded ordnance prior to remediation of oil lakes, contaminated piles, oil spills and trenches
  • Propose sound remediation and contracting strategies and plans. Carry out execution of the remediation projects, using the most reliable remediation technologies either through single or combined technologies (treatment trains);
  • Propose re-use, recycle or final disposal strategies, plans and carry out execution of projects for materials that cannot be remediated in a sustainable manner;
  • Construction of engineered landfills and temporary remediation areas;
  • Excavation and remediation of oil-contaminated piles, heavily contaminated portions of dry and wet oil lakes, oil trench areas and oil spills;
  • Disposal of excavated materials in newly constructed landfills and temporary remediation or disposing areas whenever determined that materials are not suitable for any remediation or re-use treatment;
  • Mixing of the contaminated soil from piles and dry oil lakes with the liquid sludge in wet oil lakes to allow easier handling of wet oil lake contents;
  • In-situ remediation of remaining contamination beneath oil lakes;
  • Restoration of surface topography by backfilling excavated areas with soil from landfill construction or elsewhere

In August 2015, MEED reported that as part of the remediation programme, local firm Alghanim International had undertaken clean-up of nearly 500,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil from the south east of the country. It had also undertaken clean-up in the northern areas of Kuwait.

Two landfills have also been filled over the last couple of years.

Around 2.2 million cubic metre landfill facilities have been constructed in the north as well as south-east of Kuwait, with around 2.5 million cubic metres of contaminated soil from dry and wet lakes as well as other affected areas excavated and deposited in landfills over the last five years.

The remediation programme is funded by the United Nations Compensation Commission, which receives five per cent of Iraq’s annual crude oil revenue as war reparation. The commission has so far received $52.4bn, but Baghdad has deferred its final reparation of $4.6bn, due in 2015 to 2017, as it faced a cash crunch due to fall in oil prices and its ongoing battle with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

KNFP’s Al-Saad confirmed however that the remediation programme had secured all the funding it required to mobilise works on the clean-up.

“We have all the money we need - approximately $2.bn - since September 2013,” he said.

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