The Effect of Oil Contamination on some Geotechnical Properties of West Qurna Oilfield Soils at Basrah, Southern Iraq

  • Ahmed K. Ahmed Department of Geology, College of Science, University of Basrah, Basrah, Iraq
  • Raid A. Mahmood Department of Geology, College of Science, University of Basrah, Basrah, Iraq
Keywords: Oil contamination, Basrah soil, Geotechnical properties, West Qurna soil, Grain size analysis


Oil contamination in soils causes several geotechnical problems that must be considered during construction. The contamination occurs due to oil seepage which could happen during oil explorations and production processes or oil transportation. The site of West Qurna oilfield in Basrah was selected for this study because it has witnessed oil seepages many times. In order to study the significant impact on geotechnical properties of soils in the West Qurna site, as uncontaminated bulk soil sample was taken at a depth of 1 m, and crude oil was added at weight ratios of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 %. Laboratory tests were performed on all samples; these tests included particle size distribution, moisture content, Atterberg’s limits, consolidation, unconfined compressive strength, and water absorption. The results show that soil at the West Qurna site is clayey silt with little sand and the moisture content is 29.21%. The values of liquid limit and plasticity index were gradually decreased, while the plastic limit was increased with increasing of crude oil in the soil of study. There was an increase in consolidation coefficients [compressive index, swelling index, pre-consolidation pressure, and coefficient of consolidation] with an increase in the percentages of crude oil in the soil. The results also show that there was a decrease in the values of unconfined compressive strength and absorption of water as the crude oil was increased in the soil.