Kuwait battles to control damage, Saudi Arabia puts emergency plan in action

Kuwait City: Kuwait battled Sunday to control an oil spill off its southern coast that stained its beaches, threatened to damage power plants and water stations and left long black slicks in the Persian Gulf.

It remained unclear where the spill originated, though Kuwait said it didn’t look like the spill came from its oil fields. They offered no estimate for the number of barrels of oil spilled, though footage from Kuwait’s Environment Public Authority showed oil tarring the beaches and in the waters off the southern area of Ras al-Zour.

Representational image. AFP

Boats and crews have been putting booms into the water to try and contain the spill. Officials want to protect waterways, power plants and water facilities first, then clean surrounding beaches, according to a report on the state-run KUNA news agency.

Authorities in neighboring Saudi Arabia have put an emergency action plan into effect to deal with the spill and were conducting an aerial survey of the area, according to a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The joint operations center in the Saudi border town of Khafji said facilities there have not been affected by the spill.

Kuwait said American oil firm Chevron Corp. and containment specialists Oil Spill Response Limited were helping in the cleanup. Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, operates fields on both sides of the border. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The area in Kuwait is home to the oil and natural gas fields shared by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Some of those fields famously were set ablaze by Iraqi forces retreating from a US-led coalition in the 1991 Gulf War that ended Saddam Hussein’s occupation of the country.

Tiny Kuwait, an OPEC member nation, has the world’s six-largest estimated oil reserves.

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