Kuwait veteran recalls oil fire gushing efforts.

Having been the only female member of a team that joined efforts to set out oil wells set on fire during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Eng. Sara Akbar reminisced the squad’s bravery, valiance and sacrifice. Composed of 30 Kuwaiti personnel, along with thousands of firemen from sisterly and friendly countries, the oil fire dousing team set a great example for self-sacrifice, loyalty and patriotism, Akbar said in an exclusive interview to KUNA.

The team of Kuwaitis which played important part in extinguishing the burning oil wells

Iraqi invaders in 1990 set around 737 oil wells on fire before pulling out of Kuwait in 1991, leaving behind one of the worst environment calamities in recent memory. Between 1.5 and two billion barrels of Kuwaiti crude oil had been burnt during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, causing the latter’s daily losses of nearly USD 120 million. The oil fire operation was a totally heroic endeavor that was exerted by people who had sacrificed themselves for wiping out the traces of the crime that was committed by the Iraqi forces by burning 737 oil wells, Akbar remarked.

Experts had estimated that it would take at least five years to put all oil fires under control, but the squad, to everyone’s surprise, managed to accomplish the mission in a record time of just eight months, she boasted. Twenty-seven teams composed of more than 10,000 firemen from 10 countries had joined the operation, she said, pointing out the mission had officially started on March 16, 1991. She estimated that the State of Kuwait had spent approximately USD 1.5 billion on the efforts of setting out the fires of all Kuwaiti oil well. Kuwait Oil Company (KPC) teams in different world countries had then set out an effective blueprint to resume production, and hammered out contracts to eliminate the impacts of the environmental catastrophe created by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, she said.

A US helicopter flies over oil lakes formed after the damage caused to the wells by the retreating Iraqi army.

They had focused their efforts on the rehabilitation of 18 assembly centers, and recovery and treatment of nearly 20 million barrels of crude oil assembled out of 240 petroleum seeps, she noted. The Kuwaiti oil engineer regretted that the oil fires had created some 300 petroleum seeps with mixed coverage and depth based on terrain, covering roughly 50 km, with leakage of around 23 million barrels of oil. Akbar reminded that the country’s refineries and storing, transport and shipping facilities had also been seriously damaged due to the oil fires crime committed by the Iraqi region ahead of the liberation of Kuwait. Finally, on November 6, 1991, in presence of the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Kuwait announced that the last burning oil well had been put out; having capped only eight months of a great accomplishment that would remain engraved in Kuwait’s memory.

Source- Arab Times.

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