Hall of Fame | Kuwait | 520 Million Gallons | 1991

An Unequaled Oil Apocalypse: The Worst Petroleum Screwup In History Was An Act of War Kuwait 1991 Oil conflagration

Formation of the new science fiction substance “tarcrete”

As the Iraqi army retreated from Kuwait in February 1991, they set fire to over 700 oil wells. The last fire was not extinguished until November 1991. The fires burned out of control for ten months in part because the Iraqis had placed land mines throughout the area. The fires consumed 6 million barrels or 30 million gallons or oil each day, with an approximate total burn of 1.8 billions gallons of crude and another 520 spilled. Unconsumed oil formed 300 oil lakes in the region, contaminating 40 millions tons of sand. The sand, oil and soot formed a new substance “tarcrete”, which covered about 5% of Kuwait’s surface area. According to best estimates, the daily emissions from the fires equaled more than half that of USA electric utility emissions or about 2% of global emissions. Many effects of the event remain.

For those who deny that humans can affect climate, climatologists estimated that the smoke from the fires affected weather patterns in the region for over a year.

For a global perspective on oil and gas spills, explosions and other oily disasters, visit the CatMap PetroChemical Screw Ups Map

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