Fifteen international companies have prequalified to bid for a Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) contract to clear unexploded ordnance from oil fields in Kuwait’s north and south.

The companies include the UK’s G4S Risk Management, US-based EOD Technology and India’s Sarvatra Technical Consultants.

The deal is estimated to have a budget in the region of $20m and forms part of a $2.9bn scheme known as the Kuwait Environmental Remediation Project (KERP), which aims to clean up pollution from the First Gulf War.

KOC has announced a 12 April closing date for bids.

The companies that have been prequalified are:

  • Azerbaijan National Agency For Mine Action (ANAMA, Azerbaijan)
  • EOD Technology (US)
  • Expal Systems (Spain)
  • Explomo Technical Services (Singapore)
  • G4S Risk Management (UK)
  • Horizon Assignments (India)
  • Maritime & Underwater Security Contractors (UAE)
  • Mechem (South Africa)
  • Mine / Eodclr (Canada)
  • Minetech International (UK)
  • Notra (Canada)
  • Olive Mine Action (British Virgin Islands)
  • Relyant (US)
  • RPS Energy (UK)
  • Sarvatra Technical Consultants (India)

According to an industry source, KOC is expected to issue another tender later this month. This will request bids on a contract that will include taking 30,000 samples from oil lakes in Kuwait in order to better understand the nature of the pollution in the country’s oil-contaminated deserts.

The extensive pollution in Kuwait’s north was caused in the final stages of the First Gulf War, as Iraq’s retreating army torched more than 600 oil wells. The fires burned for 10 months before being extinguished, leaving behind a spill of about 22.5 million barrels of oil and damaging an area spanning 384 square kilometres.

In December 2005, the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) awarded Kuwait $2.9bn in compensation to fund KERP.

Initially Kuwait planned to bury soil that has high levels of contamination – above 18 per cent oil – in 16 giant landfills. Surveys have found there is about 26 million cubic metres of this sludge that needs to be cleared.

Due to fears these large toxic landfills will cause problems for future generations, Kuwait is now conducting studies to find out whether using new technologies to break down the crude is financially viable, something that would dramatically reduce the number of landfills needed.