Imax - Fires of Kuwait - FULL - 9 subtitles


Uploaded by pacatosud on 17.03.2012

Transcript:
ln the summer of 1990, peace in Kuwait was shattered by...
...the expansionist plans of their neighbor, Iraq.
On August 2, Saddam Hussein sent 100,OOO troops across the border...
...announcing that Kuwait had ceased to exist.
And my country's under occupation.
My people are suFfering...
...and l appeal to you again for your assistance...
...and help.
This will not stand. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.
When sanctions and negotiations failed, the United States led a...
...32-nation coalition against Iraq in Operation Desert Storm.
Force will be used suddenly, massively and decisively.
After six weeks, Iraq's occupation forces collapsed.
ln a final act of vengeance, Saddam ordered the detonation...
...of almost 700 oil wells.
War leaves Kuwait devastated, its people scattered...
...the whole network of modern facilities in ruins.
Emergencies in every sector of society demand response.
Can you clari_ what the situation is? Over.
South area is still a declared emergency. Out.
ln oil fields, you prepare for accidents, even for disaster...
...but who could have prepared for this?
Six days after liberation, a small group of firefighters arrive...
...to assess the task ahead.
Lewis Mallo, this is Johnny.
Can you tell me exactly how to get to 25? Over.
Yeah, go down to the second gathering center...
...there's an old bombed tank, follow the road all the way back in.
Five million barrels a day going up in clouds of poisonous smoke and soot.
lf left alone, the fires could burn for 100 years.
lt's not iust darkness as you imagine darkness.
There were lots of days for a long time that were absolutely black.
Everywhere you looked, there was a burning well.
Everywhere you looked, there was nothing but destruction.
When you could see the sky, it didn't last but a few minutes...
...and it would be total darkness again.
l went back home.
l tried to tell them what l had seen on the trip...
...what we would be up against...
...what they would need to expect.
And then l told them...
...there's no such words that will explain what you're fixing to go into...
...and l couldn't describe it to them, what l'd seen.
l could not.
There's no words to describe what we saw when we came here in March.
Thousands of Iraqi mines and coalition bombs lie unexploded...
...in the soft sand around the wells.
Disposal teams creep through the dark days, searching them out.
There's only a handful of oil-field firefighters in the world...
...and no one is certain how long it might take.
Some say five years, some say ten.
Let's get this piece of iunk out of here so we can go to work.
From 40 countries come 10,OOO people and thousands of tons of machinery.
lt's the largest non-military mobilization in history.
You start at the beginning, rebuilding the roads.
On the edge of the oil field, there's a big deposit of a clay called ''gatch.''
fine and dense, it will sit on top of the oily sludge...
...without absorbing it.
Thousands of tons of gatch...
...build hundreds of miles of roads, one to every fire.
Pipelines, useless now, stretch from every well and field to the coast.
Why not reverse them?
lnstead of taking oil to the coast...
...bring an ocean of water to the middle of a desert.
Saddam Hussein built this pipeline to flood the shore with oil...
...and create a wall of fire against a coalition invasion.
Now, it too carries water to dozens of reservoirs and fills them...
...with a million gallons each.
The direction of the wind is the key to the assault on the fires.
With the wind pushing the heat away, bulldozers can move water pipes...
...and monitor sheds to within nozzle range of the fire.
Staying upwind of the 2,OOO degree heat is a matter of life and death.
But even here, you'll sweat a quart an hour.
And 12 hours is an average day.
When water lines are ready, the team will cool the superheated ground...
...between them and the fire they've nicknamed ''Rita.''
The firefighters' toolbox stands by...
...with eight heavy-equipment operators to support...
...the four professional firefighters who make up the core of each team.
Good morning.
l got some good news For you:
Leebo and Angie had a baby boy.
-All right. -All right, give us another FireFighter.
Looks like you got everything right here, the dirt work, the water.
You gonna dig with your backhoe?
We've got a drain cut, but we're going to work on it a little more.
We'll work on that big old coke pile in the back when we rake.
Well, l'm going, as hot as it is, to go check on Paul.
l'll be back.
-Okay, Joe. -Okay, Big One.
The attack begins with a barrel of C-4 plastic explosive.
Unburned oil has solidified...
...building up a hard cap of coke over the wellhead.
The C-4 will blast it apart.
lf people would iust think of explosives as an expedient tool.
Does a lot of work, has a lot of energy and it's instantaneous.
And it's pretty safe. l've never had an accident in 35 years.
Of course, we're violating every safety regulation ever written...
...when we use explosives in the fire, you know, and...
...the heat and everything, but it's iust one of those things.
lt's another way to do it.
A constant stream of water keeps men from collapsing...
...and machines from melting.
Everything that might re-ignite an extinguished fire must be pulled away.
Only when you've completely cleared the ground around...
...the exposed wellhead can you decide how to attack the fire itself.
Every fire has its own personality and requires its own approach.
This fire won't stay out.
Time for the ''stinger.''
lts hollow steel spike is forced down the throat of the well.
Then, heavy mud is pumped in to choke ofl the oil supply.
lts simplicity makes the stinger a favorite technique...
...but it's only one of many.
At George Hill's fire, the heat is so intense...
...that the men can't work near it.
A hollow steel venturi tube will lift the flame up...
...and away from the men and machines.
lf it's a 30-foot tube, it'll roughly move your radiant heat circle...
...back 50 to 70 feet.
lt creates low pressure at the base that's unbelievable.
lt'll take your gloves ofl your hands.
You've got to be careful or it'll suck your hardhat ofl.
George has decided on an exacting technique.
He'll try putting out the fire by maneuvering the venturi tube.
lf you've got a real hard crosswind, it works better.
We tried it on this one twice yesterday and we never could get it to work.
This morning would be a good time to try.
Hoses soak the oil at the top of the tube, forcing the flame downwind.
Water aimed at the base is sucked up with the oil...
...reducing its flammability.
Tilting the tube can separate fuel from flame for a split second.
Now is the time of greatest danger.
A steady downpour of oil turns the whole area into a huge torch...
...waiting for a match.
The re-ignition of that fire...
...when you're not prepared for it...
...is probably the most diflicult thing to deal with.
lt comes so fast, you don't have any warning.
And your personnel...
...are very likely to iust go up iust as quick as that well does.
Flames engulfed a Romanian team in a situation like this.
Natural gas had built up around them when the well flashed.
At this wellhead, a diverter tube draws the gas away.
Like oil-soaked shorebirds, human beings can overheat...
...when their pores are clogged.
You can pass out without warning.
You're trusting your life to the men around you.
But when the wind dies, and the site fills with oil and gas...
...all you can do is pull back and wait until the weather improves.
Today l saw the sun rise for the first time.
We took pictures.
lt's the first time any of us had seen the sun since...
...before this started.
By October, teams from the Soviet Union...
...China and Iran ioin in the eflort.
French and British crews will bring the total to 27 teams.
The pace of the battle has everyone improvising.
''Foamy One'' is a Canadian idea.
Conceived and constructed in two short weeks...
...it sweeps the vast ground fires...
...of the world's second largest oil field...
...the Burgan Complex.
The Hungarians recycled a Russian T-34 tank...
...to create a spectacular prototype called ''Big Wind.''
They took ofl the gun turret and replaced it with iet engines...
...from MiG-21 fighter planes.
Water is iniected into the iet stream.
Then they iust open the throttles and blow the fire out.
Every team in this fight brings its own special strength.
for the Kuwaitis, it is an intimate knowledge...
...of the reservoirs beneath the sprawling Burgan Complex.
Petroleum engineers Aisa Bou Yabes and Sara Akbar...
...started the Kuwaiti team.
We had a very big motive during this occupation to...
...protect our country.
Everybody was trying to do his best.
And we proved that we could do a lot of things, l mean...
...it was a process like survival to us.
Either we fight and become...
...the owners of our land, or we might as well die.
Capping the wells around it has built up the pressure in this fire.
Now it's the largest in the country...
...and a high gas content is causing...
...almost complete combustion of the oil...
...making it the hottest.
This is the crest of Burgan. This is the top part of the reservoir.
This is the ''cream'' of Burgan actually being burned here.
Half the water supply has gone iust to cool the site enough to get close.
Then, the venturi tube lifts the fire almost out of hose range.
Just as success seems possible, the wind shifts...
...driving the heat back onto the crew.
Water vaporizes on the superheated ground...
...and the team must fight its way back through boiling clouds of steam.
They'll refill the reservoir...
...build a second one and move in again.
This time, the plan calls for doubling the water.
Oil won't burn unless it's hot.
So, enough water iust might cool it to the point where the fire will go out.
One of the things special about the oil field, everybody helps.
Everybody tries to find a solution to the problem.
They are here for the same purpose, putting ofl all these fires and...
...clearing the sky.
Texans have been dynamiting oil well fires for over 50 years.
We have to get the well in a certain condition before we can use the dynamite.
You fire it remotely after you've set up your charges.
You're away from the detonation itself.
lt creates a vacuum.
The fire doesn't have any oxygen to burn on for microseconds.
Therefore it starves, and it doesn't have anything to rekindle it.
All right, stay down. Wait until everything quits blowing.
All clear.
All right, l'm gonna get her on Monitor 2.
High torque cuts through steel wellheads...
...with a high-pressure stream of water and garnet dust.
lt saved days on each well capping.
Wellheads used to be sawed ofl by a steel cable...
...stretched between two bulldozers.
Once the bolts are cut, the old wellhead is removed...
...and the capping assembly can be forced down over the oil flow...
...in a process called ''snubbing.''
Air pressure from this accumulator will drive the valves...
...so the well can be shut ofl remotely.
lt's hard to comprehend, and l thought l had myself...
...mentally prepared for what l was fixing to see.
You can't look at the countryside...
...the destruction, devastation...
...and the senseless ruination of a country.
You have to look at them on a one-well basis.
lt's really a little bit more, it's more the environment, too...
...because it's a global thing.
You're actually helping wildlife...
...the seas, everything.
Feels better.
Makes you appreciate that it doesn't happen like this all the time.
As the smoke clears, the extent of the damage is revealed.
The whole desert ecosystem is smothered under a blanket of tar...
...for hundreds of square miles.
Oases, once havens for desert wildlife...
...now lie under lakes of oil.
Sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide...
...trace metals, unburned hydrocarbons...
...and salt...
...combine with the oil to encrust the trees.
For thousands of migrating birds, the iourney ended here.
And for the human population...
...the prospect of poisoned air...
...polluted water, and the deadly legacy of war.
Mines are designed to hurt people, that's the be all and end all.
lf there are still mines on the beaches and people walk on them...
...somebody is going to get hurt.
The desert was very safe for everybody to go...
...and we used to enioy it tremendously.
We can't do that anymore because...
...the environment is completely disturbed.
The natural pleasures we used to get from our land, we can't get anymore.
The pain of the past is truly wasted...
...if we learn nothing from it.
People from around the world responded to this environmental assault...
...with determination and unity.
What experts feared might take years...
...has been accomplished in iust nine months.
Did you call George?
Yes, l called George and he should be on the way with the two packers.
-Okay, we'll try it. -Yes.
But if it doesn't work then you know what we have to do, we have to cut....
lt's not what you lose on the surface...
...it's what you lose underground now, and that is a tremendous amount.
Each and every well is like a patient that you know very well, like a human.
We deal with them when they have a problem...
...and we try to solve that problem.
The work will not stop.
Our ultimate goal is to try to recover all the wells.
l know that we can do it.
This rebuilding process is a real challenge.
This is the first time l work on such a team.
l know now, teamwork is the best way to go about things.
Budrow, you got IYumber 133 For Wild Well Control.
Thank you, Buddy.
All right, good job. Another one down.
There is no limits to what the human being can do...
...if the fear inside is not there anymore.
Humans are put...
...on this earth, not to fight.
You know, people could ioin forces to build.
l think that's what all people have learned all over the world.
Subtitles by SOFTITLER
When we arrived in Kuwait, at the end oF September...
...in 1991...
...we'd seen video...
...and some television oF what was going on there.
We had a reasonable impression oF what we might expect...
...but there was really nothing...
...that we'd seen that could have prepared us...
...For the actual experience oF being there.
Five million barrels a day going up in clouds of poisonous smoke and soot.
lf left alone, the fires could burn for a 100 years.
ln making a Film, you can only reproduce the sound...
...and the visual imagery, but it was every sense...
...that was iust being completely filled to the maximum.
The sounds were beyond deafening.
The view was constantly changing...
...and endlessly Fascinating and terriFying.
lt smelled like any toxic waste dump you could imagine.
lt's all poison gases and burning hydrocarbons...
...and all kinds of foul stufl.
There's no way l'd ever experienced heat like this before.
Staying upwind of the 2,OOO degree heat is a matter of life and death.
But even here, you'll sweat a quart an hour.
And 12 hours is an average day.
A constant stream of water keeps men from collapsing...
...and machines from melting.
ln this situation, l simply had to go on the instincts...
...that l've acquired over the past 20 years oF making these Films...
...and see if that would be enough. We wrote the story as we went along.
Everything had to be done while driving to and from the next shot.
Every waking hour was a working hour.
By October, teams from the Soviet Union, China and Iran ioin in the eflort.
French and British crews will bring the total to 27 teams.
They were sick oF Film crews.
There'd been so many Film crews, they'd just about had enough oF them.
Luckily, they knew what IMAX was.
And they also appreciated that we weren't iournalists...
...and that we weren't trying to make any political point...
...or make any real biased point of view.
We iust wanted to make a film about human beings...
...in incredible situations.
Without them, we couldn't have achieved what we did.
They were marvelous.
One of the welders welded a platform...
...onto the side of one big long backhoes...
...so that we could mount the camera on the back hull...
...and drive it up and sling the camera right up...
...almost into the fire. It's a marvelous torture test for a camera.
lt was very squirrelly flying in that situation...
...because the fires dictate their own local weather.
Sometimes a wind change would have put a helicopter in fire.
And you have to rely on everybody's experience there...
...to get you out. We had a great pilot who helped us a lot.
Fire is such a dynamic force.
Compositionally, it's a marvelous thing. The Fires are tall.
The IMAX screen is tall. You're oFten looking For subjects...
...which have interest both at the top and the bottom oF the screen.
Photographically, nobody could fail to be fascinated.
l can't imagine how anybody could not have wanted to be there...
...from the standpoint of a photographer wanting to capture dramatic images...
...because they were everywhere.
Now is the time of greatest danger.
A steady downpour of oil turns the whole area...
...into a huge torch waiting for a match.
This is a documentary that...
...l think, is as true to the experience...
...that was had in Kuwait as anything is.
A story of human beings...
...human courage and heroism...
...and the best and the worst of what humans are doing...
...to this planet.