State upstream operator Kuwait Oil Company has tendered the project management consultancy contract for the nearly $3bn post-Gulf War environmental remediation programme.

Around 71 companies have been pre-qualified to participate in project management contract to oversee the clean-up of contaminated soils and unexploded ordnance left behind by retreating Iraqi army forces.

Approximately 114 square kilometres of Kuwaiti desert surface has been 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 causing widespread environmental devastation on land and air.

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 North as well as South East Kuwait.

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

A pre-tender meeting will be held on 2 May and the deadline for submission of bids is 16 July.

The large number of firms pre-qualified is understood to include sub-contractors to undertake remediation work.

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, plans and carry out execution of remediation projects, considering the most reliable remediation technologies either a sole or combined technologies (treatment trains) within cost and time boundaries for the KERP (TRS) overall plan;
  • Propose re-use, recycle or final disposal strategies, plans and carry out execution of projects for those materials that due their high content of contaminants such as oil sludge’s or bituminous crusts 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

MEED reported that as part of the Kuwait Environmental 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 had been filled over the last couple of years, according to Saad al-Saad, senior technical consultant with Kuwait National Focal Point, which oversees the remediation works.

Around 2.2 million cubic metre landfill facilities have been constructed in north as well as south-east 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.