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Branko R Babic

53A Middle Way

Oxford OX2 7LE
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Containment of the Kuwaiti Oil Fires 1991.

In early 1991 the world was shocked by the bedlam inflicted on a

small, weak but extremely rich country that was not equipped for war.
Defenceless against the well armed aggressor, the people of Kuwait
were quickly overpowered. Economics seem to have been the bases
for the attack on Kuwait and control of the oil wealth of Kuwait was
said to be the primary goal of the powers that conceived the war.
When western powers moved into Kuwait the retreating Iraqi forces are
said to have destroyed some 700 hundred oil wells crippling the
Kuwaiti economy and causing an environmental catastrophe.

The world had never seen a problem of this type before and the
specialist services that were instructed to resolve the crisis had no idea
how to cope with the scale of the devastation. The Kuwaiti Government
watching the burning of a precious, irreplaceable resource and being
advised by the specialist teams hired to put out the oil fires that the
task could not be completed in less than two years and could possibly
take as long as five, the Kuwaitis were faced with the total destruction
of their economy.

As a desperate last choice they invited anyone with containment know-

how to come forward and present their concept for consideration. All
over the world vast numbers of scientists, specialist firms, oil industry
consultants, materials specialist, etc and a huge number of ordinary
men and women who have never been near a burning oil well, put
forward concepts for the containment of the burning oil wells. Soon
after the invitation the agencies set up to handle and oversee
submitted ideas were flooded with descriptions and methodology that
had never been tried or tested before and it was reported that in the
UK the offices receiving submissions were stuffed full of letters,
drawings and proposals on how to put out the fires. Rooms were full
from floor to ceiling with submissions from various quarters, most of
which never saw the light of day.

In this scramble to help solve a unique problem an inventor, Branko

Babic put forward a proposal to the Kuwaiti Oil Corporation in London
UK, that was accepted and used to contain over half of all the burning
oil wells in Kuwait. A Chemistry degree from London University
provided Babic with know-how, to offer a simple solution for the control
of damaged oil wells. A fire is a well understood chemical process in
which oxygen reacts with a combustible substance to achieve new
products and at the same time liberate a large amount of energy. It
was the heat of the fires that was the main problem in containing the
damage caused to the oil well heads and as soon as the heat was
removed from any given site the repair of the damaged installation,
was the simplest of engineering tasks.

The patent applied for technology provided by Babic consisted of a

long tube about 10 metres in length, that was positioned directly
above the burning oil well. The escaping material being under pressure
was forced up this displacement tube to emerge at the top of the
structure and continue burning some distance above the damaged
installation. In this way, the heat generated by burning oil was
displaced some distance from the working area and the engineers
could start work on cutting and repairing the damaged oil facility,
whilst it was still burning. The fire was put out using basic chemistry
A fire being a chemical reaction between oxygen and a hydrocarbon,
cannot occur if any of the constituent reactants are absent so that by
removing oxygen from the inside of the tube, the fire was immediately
extinguished. Very simply principals applied, no oxygen no fire.

The removal of oxygen from the combusting environment was

achieved according to prevailing conditions and was planned to be
used by lowering the tube containing the burning oil to the ground thus
preventing air from entering the lumen of the tube. The second
method proposed was the removal of the displacement tube to one
side of the oil well so as to create a break in the burning column of oil.
In this case, the oil was burning at the top of the tube and as the long
tube was snapped to one side of the oil installation the hot end of the
assembly was moved some distance from the escaping column of oil
and not having a source of heat to promote combustion, the escaping
oil did not reignite. Thirdly, given that the oil wells were sited in the
middle of the desert the pumping of nitrogen gas into the tube was
proposed to prevent air from entering the combustion area. By the
time the technology was accepted and applied in Kuwait the fire
fighting teams had installed piping to duct water from the sea and vast
volumes of salt water were used to keep the working areas around the
burning wells cool. Once the displacement tube was in position the
intensity of the fires was controlled by pumping varying quantities of
water into the lumen of the displacement tube and when the fires
needed to be put out the tube was flooded with water, as a means of
removing oxygen from the combustion equation.

Picture Displacement Tube

Kuwaiti Patent 40/94
The displacement tube concept was extremely effective and well over
half of all fires were controlled using this methodology. As a means of
controlling burning oil wells the displacement tube has become the
preferred method of containing fires, particularly highly pressurised
well installations.

Much use for the oxygen displacement has emerged since the concept
was proposed for use in Kuwait. The fact that basic chemistry is at
work means that no fire can occur if any of the components of the fire
are missing and by removing oxygen from the equation a vast number
of applications have emerged where combustibles can be prevented
from igniting. The technology has successfully been introduced to
containers of fuel such as aircraft fuel tanks, fuel carrying super
tankers, oil storage facilities, enclosed combustible storage facilities
and even controlling fires in contained environments such as housing.
Many uses are yet to emerge as the value of the concept of oxygen
displacement is further innovated.
Mysterious political pressures were at play at the time and the best
technology intended for rapid containment of the damaged oil well
heads, was NOT allowed to be used in Kuwait.

In addition to the displacement tubes Babic also designed counter

pressure plugs, that were intended to be lowered into the damaged
ends of the riser tubes. The technology provided steel plugs with soft
metal collars that were lowered inside the burning well head pipes and
dropped, to block the opening of any given pipe and thus staunch the
flow of escaping oil, in a similar manner to the way that a cork plugs an
opening of a champagne bottle. The total weight of the steel plug
exceeded the pressure of the escaping oil and once the plug was in
position the installation could be left, plugged and secure from
escaping oil, until the engineering teams had time to repair the facility.
Several damaged oil installations could have been contained per day
with a team of tree men. The entire Kuwaiti saga could have been
resolved within a couple of months.

Picture Counter Pressure Plugs

Kuwaiti Patent 39/94

In all this, Babic has been sidestepped by all concerned and the Kuwaiti Oil Company,
the Kuwaiti Oil Corporation, the Kuwaiti Government, The British DTI, and many other
agencies contacted with the non payment complaint. Even the Kuwaiti Emir, has refused
to answer the complaint,. The technology is in any case, Copyrighted. An amazing
situation exists wherein a Nation stands before the World and begs for help to resolve a
unique and catastrophic situation and someone, from some part of the World, comes
forward and provides an answer that helps the people of Kuwait save their oil industry
from total destruction and the powers that be, then refuse to acknowledge or even pay a
token gesture to the inventor who provided the concept.

About 20 years later, all attempts to retrieve unpaid royalties have come to nothing and
Babic has not been able to retrieve any of the 100 million pounds outstanding in royalties.

How can this be?

The story of Branko Babic a lone inventor, was documented by the

Discovery Science Channel “The Inventors” on shown on, Sky TV.

Branko R Babic Invention and Innovation

See: http://freespace.virgin.net/babic.branko/kofc.html