Severe sandstorm disrupts oil exports and air traffic in Kuwait

April 14, 2011

Authorities in Kuwait on Wednesday scrambled to deal with a new dust storm that reduced visibility, halting oil exports and air traffic.

However, a ranking official affirmed that supplies of crude oil to local and foreign clients would not be disrupted and the halt in operations was precautionary.

The country’s main oil authority, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), said it was halting exports of crude by sea and advised incoming ships to change schedules and refrain from berthing at the national ports for the time being.

Stoppage of exports of crude is a precautionary measure taken by the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), Shaikh Talal Al Khalid, the official spokesman for the oil sector, told Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

The authorities have also stopped export activities, cargo ship berthing at the national ports, as well as some maintenance work at the refineries of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), due to the bad weather, Al Khalid, also KPC managing director of the Government and Parliamentary Relations and Media, said, Kuna reported.

In line with standing procedures, all operations to ensure the safety of personnel and safeguard the oil installations have been taken, and supplies to KPC’s local and external clients and to fuel stations will not be affected, Al Khalid said.

Drilling operations and other back-up activities at KOC will proceed according to standing procedures.

Kuwait is a major supplier of crude oil to the international market, with a reported daily output of 2.5 million barrels per day.

Incoming flights have been halted due to the weather, but outgoing flights will continue, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.

Mohammad Al Thuwaini, acting director of operations at the airport, said that incoming aircraft were diverted to airports in neighbouring countries.

Airport closure: Access denied

Kuwait on Wednesday closed its airport to planes arriving into the country until weather conditions improve, officials said.

A sandstorm has hit the country and reduced visibility to less than 300 metres, the minimum required for planes to land, Mohammad Al Thaweeni, acting head of operations at the airport, told Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

Planes are being diverted to airports in neighbouring countries. However, planes were allowed to depart from the airport where the minimum visibility required for outbound flights is 150 metres, the agency said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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