An oil spill has been reported near a joint Kuwaiti-Saudi oilfield in the Gulf. Sheikh Talal Al Khaled Al Sabah, the spokesman for the country’s oil sector, said in a statement, “Emergency oil teams are still struggling to put an oil spill near Kuwait’s southern Ras Al-Zour area under control.” Kuwait is building a massive $30-billion oil complex at Al-Zour that includes a 615,000-barrel-per-day refinery.
According to reports, the oil spill left long black slicks in the Persian Gulf and is threatening to damage power plants, water stations, and its beaches. Footage from Kuwait’s Environment Public Authority showed oil tarring the beaches. The area in Kuwait is home to the oil and natural gas fields shared by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait said it didn’t look like the spill came from its oil fields.
Sources are saying the spill occurred in the waters off Kuwait’s southern coast, near the joint Kuwaiti-Saudi offshore Al-Khafji oilfield. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have confirmed that the spill had not reached their waters. Both countries are located south of Kuwait along the Gulf coast. A statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency said Saudi Arabia was conducting an aerial survey of its oil plants along the coast.
No official reports were available on the source or size of the leak. Kuwaiti media reported that local oil experts are saying the spill originated from an old 50-km pipeline from Al-Khafji. It had been estimated as many as 35,000 barrels of crude oil may have leaked into the waters.
Emergency workers are battling to contain the oil spill. Boats and crews have been putting booms into the water to try and contain the spill. The country said the Kuwait Oil Company, the Kuwait National Petroleum Company, the ministry of electricity and water, the environment public authority and other oil companies are working together to contain the leak.
The Kuwait Petroleum Corporation said teams from Saudi Arabia, American oil firm Chevron Corp., and containment specialists Oil Spill Response Limited were cleaning the coastal waters. Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, operates fields on both sides of the border. Kuwait’s Environment Public Authority (EPA) said it was taking all appropriate measures in order to protect water outlets from the oil spill.
Kuwait is a major producer of oil and gas. The tiny country has the world’s six-largest estimated oil reserves. The two energy sources make up about 95 percent of the country’s export revenues.