India’s not-for-profit, policy research organisation The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is preparing to ask Kuwait for a two-year extension to its KD18.6m ($66.7m) contract to clean oil contamination in seven overspill pits located in the country’s southeast.

Originally, the project was due to be completed in March 2015, but a senior TERI official says the organisation is planning on asking Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) for an extension that will give it until March 2017 to compete its work.

Clearing unexploded ordnance from the First Gulf War was one of the main stumbling blocks, according to the official, who asked to remain anonymous as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“Scanners had to be used to detect the unexploded ordnance in the sludge and removing the explosives was far more challenging than expected,” he said.

“Initially, we planned to clear the ordnance in two months, but it took us about 14 months.”

TERI is one of three entities that won KOC contracts to clean polluted soil in Kuwait’s southeast using experimental techniques.

The other two companies are South Korea’s GS Engineering, which won a contract worth KD11m and Spain’s Hera, which won a contract worth KD16.1m.

Hera and GS Engineering did not respond to requests from MEED for information on the progress of their projects and details of any delays.

In September, a KOC official told MEED that all three contractors had started the main treatment phase of their schemes.

Success in these projects is likely to prove key to winning future remediation contracts from the state oil company.

KOC is currently looking to hire firms to take on similar remediation work in larger projects, worth a total of $2bn, to clean up hydrocarbons contamination from the Gulf war.

The extensive pollution in the country’s north was caused in the final stages of the war, as Iraq’s retreating army set more than 600 of Kuwait’s oil wells on fire.

Some of the fires burned for 10 months before being extinguished. According to researchers, more than 3,000 hectares of land was covered in crude and 40 million tonnes of soil was contaminated.