Kuwait Journal of Science

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Volume :33 Issue : 2 2006      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Types and extent of soil contamination in Greater Al-Burqan oil field, Kuwait


* Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, P.O. Box 24885, Safat 13109, Kuwait.  Telephone: 965 4989320/21, Fax: 965 4989319.  Email: somar@kisr.edu.kw, wroy@kisr.edu.kw

** AACM International, Adelaide, Australia.  Telephone 965 5332723, Fax: 965 5351653.  Email: ggrealish.ene@cickuwait.com




During the Iraqi aggression in 1990 and 1991, Kuwait’s oil wells were damaged and set on fire, resulting in oil contamination of the soil.  Contamination of the environment occurred from oil spreading over the land surface and penetrating the soil to varying depths, aerial fall-out from oil spray and combustion products from oil fires, and the formation of oil lakes on the land surface. 


The aim of this survey was to determine the magnitude of damage in the Greater Al-Burqan oil field area (56,245 ha) for the purpose of providing information to aid subsequent land use planning and determination of remediation options.


Objectives of the survey were to categorize the types of damage, map the extent of damage, and estimate the volume of contaminated soil.  An approach based on soil survey concepts was adopted. The key variables measured were contamination depth, total petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations, oil contamination concentration using laser-induced fluorescence, soil colour, soil texture, soil consistance and site location.


The reconnaissance field survey identified four observable types of oil contaminated soil layers (liquid oil, oily soil, tar mat and soot), plus a ‘clean’ soil type where no oil contamination was observed.  The mean volume of contamination was estimated at about 24.4 million cubic meters.  The bulk of the oil-contaminated soil occurs in the dry oil lake areas (70%) and the oil lake areas (24%), and oily soil is the dominant type of contaminated soil layer.


Keywords:  GIS; mapping; oil contamination; soil classification; tar mat.

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