Primary Author:
Aisha Al Baroud
Sr. Environmental Engineer
Kuwait Oil Company

Conference Presenter:
Ahmed al-Maqseed
Sr. Project Engineer
Kuwait Oil Company

Muthanna Al Mumin, Kuwait Oil Company
Aisha Al-Baroud, Kuwait Oil Company
Djamel E Lekmine, Worley, Ahmadi, Kuwait

After the Gulf war, in 1991, Kuwait’s oil wells were sabotaged and set on fire, resulting in crude oil contamination of the desert land. Continuous gushing crude oil and spillages led to filling natural existing depressions and penetrated the soil to form large wet and dry oil lakes; these represent the main features of soil contamination and created a negative and lasting environmental impact on Kuwait terrestrial resources. Detailed assessment studies from 1995 till 2003 for the environmental damages and proposed rehabilitation program had resulted in awarding Kuwait several claims to remediate and restore environmental land damages and fresh groundwater resources via the United Nation Compensation Commission (UNCC).
UNCC, Kuwait National Focal Point (KNFP), and Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) cooperated in a joint stakeholder to manage and undertake comprehensive efforts to remediate the approximate 26 million cubic meters of heavily oil contaminated soils. Kuwait Environmental Remediation Program (KERP) is a unique Program funded by UNCC Claims and is currently considered the largest soil environmental inland cleanup project in the world. Emerging from KOC commitment to sustainable remediation, a Total Remediation Strategy (TRS) was developed in 2015 in lieu of the original execution plan to excavate and contain all 26 million m3 in landfills. TRS allows efficient management of contaminated materials, recovery, recycle and/or re-use of oil sludge, remediation of contaminated soils with marginally low to medium total petroleum hydrocarbons levels with bioremediation and treatment technologies, and reduces the unnecessary disposal of treatable material and containing these materials in large landfill areas prone for conventional oil production.
Oil sludge is one the most significant solid wastes generated in the oil and gas industries. It is a complex emulsion of variable mixtures of oils, water and solid particles. Amongst the most challenging is selected wet oil Lakes (e.g. oil sludge), which are still contain considerable amount (i.e. 80%) of highly weathered and viscous oil crude adding up to almost 1,050,000-barrel Oil or 160,000 m3.
Oil recovery from oil sludge in WOLs is one of the main pillars of the TRS. Several feasibility studies and trial tests were carried out in the recovery and treatment of crude oil from oil sludge. These studies consisted of viable technical options for the oil recovery with solvent extraction with and without centrifuge and surfactant/chemical for subsequent enhancement of crude oil with the goal re-use of these oils and most importantly to minimize the landfill footprints.
Favorable results have been identified from the studies and trial tests completed. Over 80 percent Oil from oil sludge could be recovered using centrifugation followed by storing in crude oil in storage tanks and then processed through company’s Oil field for further processing in respective gathering centers. In broad terms, the studies and trial test were essential and successful to conceptually design and later to build a scale up recovery and treatment techniques to provide full design components, end users oil quality, insurance and order of magnitudes with high levels of assurance to undertake full-scale constructability.
This paper will demonstrate the recovery approach which is found to have more positive results and more environmentally sustainable in the long term than conventional landfill approach. Furthermore, it will illustrate the reduction of the volume of anticipated landfills.