UXO Technical & QA/QC Support, Rumaila Field, Iraq

The Rumaila oilfield, in southern Iraq, is one of the largest oil fields in the world. It is managed by a consortium of four companies, the Basra Oil Company (BOC), Petro-China, SOMO and BP, which collectively make up the Rumaila Oilfield Operations (ROO). The oilfield was the scene of conflict during both Gulf Wars, and as a result, there is substantial contamination from explosive remnants of war (ERW) specifically unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines.   In 2013 BP contracted RPS to provide the management of ERW risk mitigation services including survey, clearance, quality assurance, quality control, technical support and mine risk education.

Project statistics

19,922
UXO cleared
104,842,552 m2
land released
1,174
additonal contaminated areas identified

Challenge

The Rumaila Oil Field has a surface area of approximately 1.4 million square meters. The entire area is designated as a Suspected Hazardous Area, making it one of the most significant ERW survey and clearance projects in the Middle East. Adding to the challenge the number and distribution of ERW contamination is oil and sludge contamination. There were huge lakes of crude oil and water spillage kilometres long surrounded by large oil storage tanks and degassing stations all linked by a complex network of pipelines and power cables.

Set in this challenging context RPS has safely managed the search and safe removal of numerous sub-munitions that remained submerged in the sludge after cluster bomb strikes. This work has been carried out since 2013, without any injuries or engineering work delays, in temperatures ranging from zero in the winter to excess of fifty degrees Celsius in mid-summer.

Although nearly three decades old, the UXO and mines remain active and extremely dangerous and should never be disturbed by anyone except explosive ordnance disposal professionals. ROO strictly enforces this through an HSE policy that means no engineering works can begin without a Land Release Certificate signed by RPS and the Iraqi specialist ERW companies involved.

Solution

ROO is committed to hiring local Iraqi contractors while maintaining the highest international safety standards for UXO and mine clearance. The work must comply with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) and ROO’s risk management policies. However, local companies do not yet have the expertise or track record for managing a project on this scale, so an ambitious capacity development programme is ongoing.

For this project, RPS put together a small and cost-effective team of explosive ordnance specialists. Members of this international team have decades of international experience in the military and private sector in numerous countries. This team oversee all aspects of the project while working with local specialist companies and provide mentorship, training and certification to local clearance contractors.

Since taking over the project in 2013, 104,842,552 square meters of land has been released for engineering works; an additional 19,922 UXO cleared and a further 1,174 contaminated areas identified.

In total, more than 200 km2 of land can now be used for well pads, flow lines and camp construction.

Through RPS’ mentoring and training, the local UXO contractors are improving their skills and taking on new responsibilities as this project continues.

Key details

Project name
UXO Technical & QA/QC Support

Client
Rumaila Operating Organization (ROO), a joint venture between BOC, BP, PetroChina and SOMO

Location
Rumaila Field, Iraq

Timeline
August 2013 - Ongoing

Services provided

  • UXO Technical Support
  • Risk Mitigation
  • QA/QC
  • Mine Risk Education

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