A U.S. soldier stands night guard near the Iraq border in February 1991 as oil wells, set alight by retreating Iraqi soldiers, burn in Kuwait.

A U.S. soldier stands night guard near the Iraq border in February 1991 as oil wells, set alight by retreating Iraqi soldiers, burn in Kuwait in the disant horizon.
Photo Credit: (Andy Clark/Reuters

History: November 6, 1991 Canadians cap the last oil fire in the Gulf War

In 1990, after a long-standing feud with neighbouring Kuwait, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army invaded the country.

Iraq had accused Kuwait of slant drilling into Iraq’s Rumaila oil field, and then of overproducing oil beyond OPEC treaty limits, causing a drop in world oil prices.

This was the beginning of the Gulf War.  As the American led allies became involved and began advancing toward Iraq, the retreating Iraqis began setting fire to the oil wells and to lakes and trenches of oil they had created.

By February 1991, the fires were ignited by the retreating Iraqis in an effort to destroy Kuwait’s oil infrastructure and to slow the advancing allies. To some extent the delay worked, but the fires of over 600 wells and oil ponds created an environmental disaster of epic proportions.

Canadian oil-well fire experts SafetyBOSS of Calgary, were the most successful of all international companies trying to douse the intense high pressure oil fires.
Canadian oil-well fire experts SafetyBOSS of Calgary, were the most successful of all international companies trying to douse the intense high pressure oil fires. © CBC

Specialized oil well experts were brought in to quell the fires.  At first four major US companies were contracted and some from other countries including Kuwait, and then the Canadians were called.

Canada extinguishes the most, and the last fire

SafetyBOSS of Calgary  became the leading effort, and although called in last, ended up capping the most wells,  although all efforts were initially slowed by landmines around the sites which had to be cleared first at a high degree of danger.

Three Kuwait fire veterans comments

SafetyBOSS CEO_ Mike Miller in 1991. The Canadian company put out 180 fires in just 200 days, a rate none of the other experts could match
SafetyBOSS CEO_ Mike Miller in 1991. The Canadian company put out 180 fires in just 200 days, a rate none of the other experts could match © CBC

Several methods were used by the companies to put out the fires. One involved massive use of ordinary seawater pumped in from the Gulf by reversing the flow of the oil pipelines. Others involved using explosives in a sudden pressure wave to blow out the fires, while others involved use of jet engines mounted on tanks to blow out the fires in a different manner.

Hundreds of oil wells and burning lakes and trenches of oil were ignited by retreating Iraqi forces, blackening the skies as millions of berrels of oil and trillionof metres of gas were burned every day.
Hundreds of oil wells and burning lakes and trenches of oil were ignited by retreating Iraqi forces, blackening the skies as millions of berrels of oil and millions more metres of gas were burned every day. © US Army, Tech. SGT Perry Heimer-wiki

SafetyBOSS  were greatly aided in their efforts by their use of their own creation of the “Smokey” fire trucks and systems.

In the end the Canadian company capped 180 of the some 600 wells, setting a rapid pace the other companies could not match. The fires, which had estimated would burn for three to five years, were put out in a matter of months.

The last fire was put out by Canada’s SafetyBOSS on November 6, 1991. The company had set up its equipment and plan so that the last fire would be extinguished by the push of a button, and prepared the honour for the Emir of Kuwait.

Categories: Economy, Environment, International, Society
Tags: , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette
When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*