Hydrocarbon Assessment and Prediction due to the Gulf War Oil Disaster, North Kuwait Academic Article uri icon


  •   Oil spill in the Gulf was the biggest disaster in history. The scale of damage was enormous, ranging from destruction caused by oil fires and oil spills, to economic decline for the Kuwaiti oil industry. The transport modelling of the freshwater aquifers in north Kuwait was undertaken to assess potential remediation scenarios using the MODFLOW-SURFACT numerical code. Three interlinked models were calibrated: flow, density (salinity), and transport. The model domain is a subregional area encompassing the Al-Raudhatain and Umm Al-Aish Basins. The time-variant salinity transport model was calibrated simultaneously with the transient groundwater flow system and this includes variably saturated flow and transport. This was done prior to proceeding to simulate contaminant hydrocarbon transport, as the hydraulic gradients and flow directions (and storage volume) are significant controls on contaminant migration. The results depicted after 23 years and with respect to the total area of the freshwater body at Al-Raudhatain (55.2 km2) and Umm Al-Aish (37 km2); the areal extent of the total petroleum hydrocarbon plume is estimated to be 7.3 and 8.7 km2 for the 0.1 mg/L contour, respectively. This equates to total petroleum hydrocarbon impacting 13 and 24% of the Al-Raudhatain and Umm Al-Aish freshwater bodies, respectively. The simulation indicated that even though total petroleum hydrocarbon loading was negligible in the center of the Al-Raudhatain depression up until the recent past, what has entered the groundwater system earlier from the contamination sources (pits, fringes, and lakes) is still moving toward the freshwater lenses or is potentially undetected due to lack of optimal existing monitoring bore screen and depth installations (plume diving). This implies that the environment is be the victim of war (the Gulf Crisis). The ecological and economic full impact probably will not be realized in the near future.

publication date

  • 2017