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Kuwait Oil Fields Reconstruction Projects Construction Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 3826 words Published: 13th Jul 2023

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During the Gulf war, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq and by the end of it almost all of oil production facilities of Kuwait had suffered extensive damage and had become defunct. Even after their Liberation in Feb, 1991 a large number of oil wells were on fire. To rebuild the country’s major source of income of the country a project was taken to reconstruct these oil fields. This was the Kuwait oilfields reconstruction project. Bechtel International was the project management firm given the contract to manage this reconstruction project by the Kuwait Oil Company.

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Work of planning of the project had started in November 1990 within three months of the start of the Iraqi Invasion, in the offices of Bechtel in London. Planning and organizing activities were being done in the offices in London, Houston, San Francisco, Dubai and Riyadh even when the war was still on. Since the war was still on, there was little knowledge of the total extent of the damage to the oilfields and how much work was to be done. However those damages that were identified till then were taken into consideration and front-end planning and procurement for the same had been started.

During the end of the war, the retreating Iraqi troops had set the oilfields on fire. Thus to continue with the project first it was necessary to bring these fires under control. The personnel of Bechtel arrived in Kuwait 4 days after a complete sweep of the City was done by the allied troops. The main objective then of these personnel was to organize and manage the firefighting efforts. This was names project Al- Awada (Arabic for return).

The vivid scenes shown by the newspaper, magazine, and television reports came alive for Bechtel project personnel. The days were dark with smoke from the fires blocking the sun, oil droplets filled the air, clean water and sanitary systems were not working, power plants were down, transportation was minimal as tires were a precious commodity, and food was very scarce. Initial accommodation was in refurbished ship quarters and in some vandalized apartment complexes without water and electricity, no more than a foam mattress on the floor, and a long hike up a darkened staircase. In addition to these problems, booby traps, land and water mines, unexploded shells and rockets, and other ordnance had littered the country. The temperatures in summer consistently were above 50 ͦ C in shade (seldom below 37 ͦ C at night), exposing the people in the field to temperatures of 55-58 ͦ C in many locations, and hotter nearer to the fires. Just providing drinking water was a major undertaking.

John Oakland, senior vice president of Bechtel Corporation, who served as the manager of projects in Kuwait, remarked,

“This campaign, which was well covered by the international news media, was one of the most complex engineering and construction efforts in history.”

However, the following assignment, which was the reconstruction of the Kuwait oil fields, was an even bigger and more challenging task. The project of the reconstruction of the oil fields, which was named Al-Tameer (Arabic for rebuild), will be discussed in this report.

Status of the Facilities

The state of the two million barrels per day oil export industry in Kuwait after the completion of the fire-fighting effort was as follows:

647 wells had burned in total, 751 wells were damaged.

Twenty-six oil gathering, separation, and production centers were damaged or totally destroyed.

One marine export facility and its related single point mooring was totally destroyed, and the second marine export facility was partially damaged and out of commission.

The equivalent of ten million barrels of crude oil storage tankage had been destroyed.

The Shuaiba refinery was totally destroyed.

A crude unit in the Mina Al Ahrnadi Refinery was completely destroyed. The rest of the refinery was partially damaged and the refinery was out of commission.

The Mina Abdullah Refinery was partially damaged and the units were not operable.

All communication towers and networks were destroyed.

Most of the working population had either fled or were in hiding.

Project Al-Tameer

After the successful completion of the fire-fighting effort, KOC invited Bechtel to present its plan for the reconstruction of the oil fields production and exporting facilities damaged during the war, starting work by November 1990. KOC’s goal was to be able to produce 2 million bpd of oil by September 1992.

Planning and Organizing Phase

The planning and organizing effort for the Al-Tameer project started with the Bechtel team that was already on-site as part of the Al-Awada project fire-fighting effort. An organization totally different from the Al-Awada project was required to scope, estimate, plan, execute, and turn over operational facilities to KOC. This organization had to be self-sufficient and be able to fully support and service a massive work force of more than 16,000 people.

The main organization was divided into five main functions.

One was to support KOC’s future five-year budget planning with identification, scoping, and planning future projects. This was named KOC Major Projects Group.

The other four groups consisted of:

manager Al-Tameer projects, responsible for all planning and project management, as well as engineering and procurement

manager coordination, responsible for scheduling, cost control, estimating, project reporting, public and community relations, and other relevant functions

manager services, responsible for providing all the required support services for the project team including explosive and ordnance demolition group

manager operation, responsible for field execution of all the defined work.

A damage assessment and scoping team consisting of engineers, planners, and estimators walked every foot of the oil fields production and exporting facilities preparing a scope of work, cost estimate, a plan and schedule of work for each facility.

The planning was based on a back to front scheduling defining the dates and production goals first, working backward to see when the drilling effort and facilities reconstruction work had to start to meet this goal. This approach also determined the required manpower and helped with direct hire and subcontracting plans.

The overall plan defined the sequence of the work and prioritized the resources to make sure facilities with least damage were first priority for completion.

The master schedule was developed based on nine subproject organization work breakdown structures (WBS)

Oil recovery

Tankage south

North Kuwait

Pipelines/flow lines

Power, buildings, cathodic protection

Marine facilities


South gathering centers

West gathering centers.

Figure : Al Tameer Organization

Each subproject having its task force, budget, schedule, and its priority on resources identified was headed by a project manager. The Al-Tameer project organization chart is shown in Figure 1.

The teams were integrated with available KOC personnel who performed some of the project functions. Each subproject team was supported by local functional managers to provide them with staff and resources to execute the work. The key driver behind the plan was meeting the schedule and the production capacity.

Execution Phase

The project execution consisted of three main functions: detail engineering, procurement, and construction management.

Detail Engineering

Engineering and construction teams worked very closely during the planning phase to determine the best and most expedient way of rebuilding some of the facilities. This close collaboration continued until construction was complete.

More than 200 designers and engineers worked in the makeshift project offices at various sites, with strong central support from a base that was set up in an old war-damaged girl’s school. This was later transferred to a newly constructed KOC engineering building. Additionally, a team of more than 200 engineers from various Bechtel regional offices worldwide provided continuous support and specialized expertise.

The main deliverables of the engineering teams were construction drawings, construction packages, and material requisitions and technical bid tabs. This effort was not limited to oil production and exporting facilities; it included some of the necessary infrastructure required for the day-to-day operation of KOC. Offices, warehouses, guest houses, employees housing, roads, power, water, etc., were all part of the scope of the work. Because most of the original drawings and specifications were destroyed during the war, field sketches and measurements had to be used. A total engineering effort of 450,000 hours resulted in 4,500 major drawings.

One totally new and fully modularized gathering facility (GC-17) was designed and built in Houston, Texas, and shipped to the sites. Other facilities were designed for rebuild based on their original concept, but modernized wherever possible. Some of the units were very old and were upgraded with the more modern versions of the equipment available. A more extensive use of distributed control systems and automation was one of the key areas that were upgraded.


The project procurement group was established in full force during the firefighting phase of the project to provide resources for that very important effort. In the Al-Tameer phase the team was further expanded to support the massive procurement and contracting effort that was required to meet the target schedule. In addition, inventory control and warehousing material were also part of the procurement team’s area of responsibility.

The procurement team was also responsible for incorporating all the material into KOC1s automated material and inventory control system. The procurement effort driving the execution phase was centralized, and it was divided into three main areas:

Material management

Contracts management

Warehouse management.

Material management included purchasing, inspection, expediting, and traffic and logistics. Contracting included formation and administration. Warehouse management included central warehouses and satellite warehouses.

The procurement team had three main goals within the project’s overall objective:

ensure the right material and resources were available in time to meet the schedule

maximize the use of available local resources to assist in rebuilding the local economy

ensure sure final warehouse inventory met KOC’s material coding and identification system.

The size and the particular nature of the project required that the procurement team be divided between material management-reporting to the manager of projects-and contracts management-reporting to the manager of construction. This arrangement facilitated the communication and management of site contractors’ work with Bechtel’s direct hire construction work.

Material Management

Project managers were responsible for development and processing of the material requisitions for their areas of responsibility. Orders over $100,000 required further approval by KOC’s manager of the Al-Tameer project. Almost everything required for the execution of the project had to be imported from outside the country. At the early phases of the project the port facilities, custom facilities, and other services required for the proper importation of goods and services were not functioning. Bechtel established a staging area in Jebel Ali port of Dubai (UAE) to receive, inspect, and accept material.

Utilizing much smaller vessels and boats, Bechtel then transported goods from Dubai to various Kuwait ports depending on availability and cargo size. This plan also included most of the air freighted material.

Because timely delivery of the material was critical to meeting the project schedule, a very detailed material requisitioning plan had to be developed identifying every required detail. This plan was then incorporated into Bechtel’s worldwide Procurement Tracking System (PTS) that enabled all Bechtel offices to monitor and follow through each order until it reached the site.

At later stages of the project when Kuwait ports and custom facilities became functional the above arrangements were changed and everything was imported directly into Kuwait. During this period more than 26,000 purchase orders were issued, and more than 520,000 tons of material were imported utilizing 742 aircraft and sea-going vessels.

Warehousing Management

One of the key activities of the warehousing management team was to incorporate the variety of material that was left behind after the war and the fire-fighting phase with newly ordered and engineering-specified material. Also, by continuously adjusting and monitoring quantities and specifications they could respond very quickly to emergency and out-of-schedule circumstances. The engineering and warehouse both utilized a common software (PCMC) to identify, locate, and quantify most of the bulk material making sure that when the material was required it would be made available immediately.

Contract Management

Although due to scheduled requirement reconstruction of some of the flow line, all of the gathering centers and booster stations were performed by Bechtel direct hires, nevertheless more than 300 major construction contracts and 650 equipment rental agreements were issued by the contract management team during the Al-Tameer project phase.

The contract formulation team worked as a central group serving all subprojects. The contract administration group managed the administration work more by function than by area. Project managers were ultimately the responsible parties for the contractor work in their areas, receiving the necessary support and services from these two centralized teams.

Construction Management

Al-Tameer was probably one of the most challenging construction projects ever managed by Bechtel. The work required provision of labor, equipment, and support facilities in fifty-five locations and in four different parts of the country-North fields, South (marine facilities and refineries), West fields, and Burgan fields. The work involved construction of drill pads; roads for heavy rig transportation; well heads; flow lines; gathering centers; gas booster stations; oil storage tanks; water supply, distribution and storage; and marine export terminal and loading facilities. In addition, KOC’s own infrastructure (offices, housing, clubs and restaurants, warehouses and buildings, telecommunication, etc.) had to be reconstructed.

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Construction efforts were divided between direct hire construction and subcontracted work. The total scope of work was divided into nine construction areas, each managed by a field superintendent. Each superintendent was responsible for both direct hire execution as well as field administration of the subcontractor’s scope of work within his area. Construction superintendents were supported by the central construction group that was the functional group supporting a project matrix team. Prioritization of resources and construction equipment was one of the major functions of the central construction team.

Field construction teams were comprised of multinational forces (from thirty-six countries) with totally different cultures, languages, and performance capabilities. Catering and other cultural requirements had to be addressed to ensure each group could perform its function satisfactorily.

Each task had to be “tailor made” to suit the team available. It was important that planning of the manpower and resources take into consideration availability of the right foreman and support group to be able to communicate and perform work with each team.


Approximately 1,000,000 hours in the regional offices and 4,000,000 hours in Kuwait were spent for project management/engineering/construction management during the first two phases of this project. Field labor hours were 50,000,000.

These project man-hours were spent within the following project schedule milestones: start of planning November 1990 start implementation in Kuwait March 199 1 project completion June 1993.

The sources of the project personnel were various. A total of 16,000 workers from thirty-six countries on five continents were involved in this massive effort. The countries that participated in the supply of manpower to this reconstruction included Kuwait, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, Australia, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yugoslavia, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Afghanistan, the Philippines, India, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Pakistan, Trinidad, and Sierra Leone.

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Key Milestones

Some of the more notable milestones in the program were:

The last fire was extinguished and the well was capped on November 6, 199 1, eight months after the arrival of the first Bechtel team on-site.

The first postwar oil was pumped from two of the original gathering centers on May 26, 199 1.

By December 1991, more than 400,000 barrels of oil per day were being produced from the rehabilitated facilities.

By April 1993, more than 11,000,000 barrels of weathered crude had been reclaimed from oil pits and lakes, and processed through the field treatment centers and the refinery.

By the end of June 1993, eighteen of the original centers were back in operation, with all the production goals achieved as scheduled.

Operation Phase


The work was conducted in fifty-five locations that included fields in the north of Kuwait on the border with Iraq, west and south of Kuwait on the borders with Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and in the refineries and loading facilities along the coast and offshore.

Five hundred square miles of land were swept and cleared of unexploded ordnance. More than 23,000 pieces of explosive devices were destroyed by explosive ordnance disposal teams. Although all work areas were swept, the risk from undetectable ordnance was ever present and some fatalities did occur.

More than 26,000 purchase orders and 300 major construction contracts and 650 equipment rental agreements were awarded during Phases I and I1 of the project. (A more normal project performed over the same time frame may have 4,000 to 6,000 purchase orders.)

A complete communication system dedicated to the oil industry was installed that included twenty-three satellite telephone systems, 4,500 telephones, and 2,000 portable radios.

A twenty-four-hour health care and safety program was established that included two helicopter medivac teams, a forty-bed hospital, a dental clinic, and a team of approximately 100 professional medical personnel on duty at seven medical stations.

More than 5,800 pieces of field operating equipment ranging from the larger bulldozers, cranes, trucks, front-end loaders, and heavy industrial equipment to ambulances, pickup trucks, cars, buses, and other support vehicles were shipped to the job sites. These pieces of equipment were purchased from twelve different countries.

A total of 742 aircraft and sea-going vessels were deployed to ship more than 520,000 tons of equipment and material to Kuwait in support of this project.

Six full-service dining halls with catering support staff provided about 3,500,000 meals for the workers during the fire-fighting campaign and 10,000,000 meals during the reconstruction phase. Menus were established to cater to the different ethnic backgrounds.

Provisions and housing for 12,000 manual and 2,000 non-manual Bechtel employees were provided. All of the members of project management and their support teams, over 200 design and engineering personnel and around 200 procurement, administration and subcontracts management teams, were resident in Kuwait.

Construction of a number of permanent offices, workshops, warehouses, maintenance shops, and housing complexes for KOC was completed at the same time.

Fire-fighting efforts originally involved the four major international teams of Boots & Coots, Red Adair, Safety Boss, and Wild Well Control. They were later joined by an additional twenty-three teams from Kuwait, Iran, China, Hungary, Great Britain, France, Canada, Romania, and Russia. Four hundred kilometers of water and oil pipelines were installed during fire-fighting efforts. Water lines and pumping stations could deliver 25,000,000 gallons a day to fire sites. Each of 360 lagoons was excavated, lined, and filled with 1,000,000 gallons of water for use in fire-fighting.

Drilling pads and access roads were constructed for 700 new and work over wells.

Three-thousand kilometers of new flow lines were constructed.

One-thousand kilometers of new and refurbished pipelines were installed.

Fifteen crude gathering centers, including a totally new and modularized early production facility, were assessed, designed, and constructed.

Three gas booster stations were constructed

Restoration and reconstruction of the marine loading terminals, offshore terminals, and SPM were completed.

Construction of more than 10,000,000 barrels of new crude oil storage tankage was managed.

Restoration of overhead and underground electrical power transmission and distribution system and cathodic protection system within the oil fields was completed.

Construction & repair and operation of water systems (fresh, brackish, and salt water) were completed.

Construction and operation of oil recovery systems and facilities that collected and treated more than 25,000,000 barrels of weathered crude were completed.


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