OM and Kuwait Oil Company Team Leader, Muthanna Al-Mumin, is leading one of two teams managing the largest inland environmental remediation project in history.
In 1991, nearly 700 oil wells were set on fire by the Iraqi troops who were forced into a retreat during the US-led operation Desert Storm. These fires burned for nearly 10 months, causing widespread environmental devastation on land and in the air. Wet and dry oil lakes and trenches filled with crude were formed by discharge from damaged wellheads. Some of these areas pose a more complicated challenge for clean-up due to their proximity to aquifers or the presence of unexploded ordnance. The oil fires resulted in contamination of nearly 114 square kilometres of Kuwaiti desert surface were contaminated and the UNCC experts estimated the soil contamination volumes at approximately 26 million cubic meters.
In 2005, the State of Kuwait was awarded six environmental claim funds (5000256, 5000259, 5000450, 5000454, 5000460 and 5000466) for a combined value of US$2,956,726,907 to remediate vast areas damaged by the remnants of the Gulf War, including military fortifications, and the effects of damaged oil installations. Of these Kuwait Oil Company has been assigned the execution of works related to UNCC claims 5000259 (Marine and coastal oil damage remediation), 5000450 (Terrestrial resources restoration) elements 2 (Wellhead pits- created to store water to fight the oil fires) & 3 (Tarcrete- a thin layer of soot deposited from the oil fire smoke which created a crusty tar-like layer overlaying clean soil) and 5000454 Oil lakes remediation.
To address the environmental damage cause, Kuwait established the Kuwait Environmental Remediation Program (KERP). KERP is the largest environmental remediation project in the world, established to address the ecological damage resulting from the 1990-91 Gulf War. Over 30 years after the UNCC's creation to ensure restitution for Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion of 1990, the reparations body announced in February 2022 that it had processed its final claim, totalling $52.4 billion.
Since 2015, Muthanna has led a team assigned for the preparation of tenders and execution of contracts related to KERP, which aims to remediate and rehabilitate the environmental damage resulting from the 1990/1991 Gulf War oil fires. Currently, two teams are managing eight (8) contracts aiming to remediate over 35 million tons of oil-contaminated soil; the total value of these projects is around one and a half billion dollars. Full-scale treatment commenced in November 2022, and Kuwait Oil Company is confident in achieving treatment of all contamination by 2027.
As of today, approximately 5 million tons of contaminated soil have been excavated, 2.3 million tons are presently under treatment, and 432,000 tons have been successfully treated. Considering initial results, Muthanna, team leader for remediation projects at the company, is confident in the success of the ongoing Kuwait Environmental Remediation Programme (KERP). Other than the soil remediation activates, since 2015, the company has cleared approximately 45 million square meters of land from UXO (unexploded ordnance) cleared.
Today, only the revegetation of treated areas is awaiting bids from contractors, and Kuwait Oil Company is targeting a contract award of four (4) contracts by the first quarter of 2024.
These projects require contractors to plant around 9 million shrubs, grasses, and trees native to Kuwait. The contractors are required to ensure sustainability to promote the natural rehabilitation of the surrounding land. Forty-two square kilometres will be planted over three seasons and monitored for an additional two years. These revegetation projects, once completed, will signal the conclusion of a dark chapter in history and commence a brighter future for the ecosystem of Kuwait.
“Millfield provided me with a platform to experiment and try many activities, gaining valuable experiences. I attempted many things, not all of them successfully. However, the important thing is the experience gained along the journey.
“My message to all Millfield students who may not be experiencing immediate academic or sport success and accolades: don't worry, success is about the long game. As Thomas Edison once stated, 'I haven't failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work’. I'd like to give a shout-out to a few of the teachers who shaped me: Mrs. Brunt, Mrs. Woods, Dr. Marshall, Mrs. Low, Mr. Grimston, Miss Parrot, to name a few. To all the round pegs in square holes, and from my experience, we all are, don't change, for you are the ones who will make the biggest difference." - Muthanna.