Nowruz Field Platform Leak

Nowruz Field Platform Leak


In 1983, the Nowruz Oil Field in Persian Gulf, Iran, was involved in a number of oil pollution incidents. This was during the Iraq-Iran war, which meant that the oil field platforms were the targets of airstrikes, and repairing damage to the platforms was made harder.

On February 10th, a tanker collided with one of the platforms. The platform developed a 45 degree tilt, and had to be shut down. The wave action and corrosion caused the riser to collapse into the wellhead, causing a slick of approximately 1,500 barrels a day. It couldn’t be capped because the field was in middle of a warzone until September 18th, and 11 men died during the process. A Norwegian company called Norpol attempted to prevent the spread of oil using booms and skimmers.

A second platform, close to the first one, was attacked by Iraqi planes in March, and the resulting slick caught fire. The platform burned and leaked at rate of 5,000 barrels of oil a day, but this later slowed to 1,500. The leak wasn’t capped until May, 1985, two years later. The well was plugged with the help of divers, and 9 men died during these operations. Approximately 733,000 barrels of oil spilled into the sea because of these incidents.

At the time, the Nowruz Oil Field was owned by Shell, but they passed control to the Iranian government, who shut the oil field down 3 months after they took control. Many habitats and ecosystems were damaged from the oil spill; drinking water was affected, as well as coral reefs, local shoals and migratory birds.