Kuwait Faces New Oil Leak

An oil spill near Kuwait’s Ras al-Zour in Persian Gulf waters.An oil spill near Kuwait’s Ras al-Zour in Persian Gulf waters.

Major oil exporter Kuwait is dealing with another crude oil spill off its southern coast, state news agency KUNA said on Monday, the latest in a series of unexplained leaks in the Persian Gulf Arab state in recent months.

KUNA said the latest spill has been detected in Ras al-Zour area, where Kuwait National Petroleum Company is building the Middle East’s largest oil refinery with a capacity of 615,000 barrels per day at a cost of $11.5 billion, Reuters reported.

Kuwait’s Environment Public Authority is monitoring the spill and is working with Kuwait Oil Company and marine authorities to control it, KUNA said, adding the size of the leak was still being assessed.

OPEC member Kuwait reported a leak in the same area last month. That was followed by another spill at Abu Fatira, about 25 km south of the capital Kuwait City, spanning one nautical mile.

There was also a limited spill from a pipeline at Kuwait’s northern al-Ratqa field in July.

Kuwait’s oil minister said last month that neighboring Saudi Arabia and Iran had said they had not detected any oil spillage in their waters from the marine leaks.

The Ras al-Zour area is also home to two power and water desalination plants, both of which have so far remained unaffected by previous spills.

Sheikh Abdullah al-Sabah, the head of Environment Public Authority, told AP after a previous incident: "There will be severe consequences to those responsible for this incident and we will prosecute them."

The leak is also near an offshore field developed jointly by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in their neutral zone. The field, Al Khafji, has a 50-kilometer pipeline running to the coast, and it was this pipeline that some industry experts said was the culprit for the spill.

Previous cleanup measures prioritized nearby waterways, water facilities and power plants, according to KUNA.

Oil and gas company Chevron, which operates fields in both Kuwaiti and Saudi waters, along with specialist firm Oil Spill Response Limited, helped the Environment Public Authority with cleanups in August.


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