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Remediation program (kerp): handling of tarcrete contamination in south east kuwait & nort kuwait oil fields

Author: 
Aisha Al-Barood, Hussain Al-Kandari and Srinivasan Vedhapuri
Subject Area: 
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Abstract: 

The State of Kuwait is situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf. During the Gulf war in 1990-1991, oil wells and related infrastructure in Kuwait were impacted for discharge of huge volume of crude oil into the environment that affected nearly 114 Km2 of the desert land. The oil contamination of the soil occurred due to the devastation of the oil wells and the actions taken to battle oil gushing well and associated oil spills for airborne deposition of crude oil and combustion products. Further, this led to creation of different oil contaminated features like wet and dry oil lakes, contaminated piles, wellhead pits, coastal oil deposits, oil-filled trenches as resulted in the contaminated land (i.e., 26 million m3 of contaminated soil). Additionally a thin layer of tarcrete formed from as aerial dispersion of burning crude oil from gushing oil well to form extensive thin hard crust upon cooling of crude oil. This had resulted in the contamination of landscape of an additional of approximately 198 Km2 has impacted the desert land. This has extensively damage changed the landscape, ecology and habitat of the flora and fauna in Kuwait. As part of Kuwait Environmental Remediation program (KERP), Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) is completely responsible for the planning and execution of the remediation and restoration projects in KOC oil fields with oversee of Kuwait Nations Focal Point (KNFP). Under the KERP, KOC further established the Total Remediation Strategy (TRS) to remediate the foresaid contaminated features. The TRS comprises of elements such as Risk Based Approach (RBA), Site Soil Characterization (SSC), Unexploded Ordnance Program (UXO), Remediation Treatment Technologies, and Sludge Disposal via Beneficial Recycling or Re-use and Engineered landfills. In order to minimize the remediation of the contaminated features, KOC has conducted the Risk Based Approach (RBA) studies where oil product is present as a continuous cemented mat, (i.e., as a tarcrete). The tarcrete is one type of contaminated feature is the fallout deposits of oil mist and soot solidified as a crust on the desert surface, with an average thickness of 1 to 1.5 cm; this may not present itself as a potential risk to the local environment. The qualitative and quantitative assessments was carried out with considering the physical nature of the sources of historical tarcrete contamination present in the oilfields, for human health, ecology and groundwater were undertaken as part of the RBA studies. The outcomes of RBA study, tarcrete material is considered suitable to be left in-situ and undisturbed, allowing for natural degradation. Additionally, if requires to remove tarcrete from specific areas for oil field development or construction, KOC has developed a procedure for the handling of tarcrete material in KOC oil fields. The main intent of this procedure to provide the guidance to Company’s Area Owners, concerned teams or contractors working within company projects to expose and advise of handling of tarcrete contaminated martials with tarcrete material management into prepared project-specific waste management plans (where required) in compliance with Company and Kuwait Environment Public Authority (KEPA) requirements. The tarcrete handling activities covered by this guideline includes tarcrete breaking, scraping, removal, stockpiling/temporary storage, transportation, disposal/landfilling, or no action due to low to negligent risk. It is also intended to ensure compliance to health and safety of the employees, protection of the environment and the interests of the stakeholders.

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