Oil well fire fighters approach a burning oil well for capping in Al Ahmadi, March 29, 1991. More than 500 oil wells were burning in Kuwait. Kuwait was invaded by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on August 2, 1990, claiming the oil-rich Kuwait as Iraqi territory. The small state of Kuwait owns almost 10% of the worldâs oil reserves. After annexation, its monarchy was removed, and a new Kuwaiti governor was installed by Saddam Hussein. Approved by the UN Security Council, an American-led coalition fought the Gulf War to reinstall the Kuwaiti Emir. After 6 weeks of war in January/February 1991, Iraq was forced to retreat its troops from Kuwait. During withdrawal, the Iraqi army practiced a scorched earth policy by placing land mines and setting fire to Kuwaiti oil wells. The inferno took over nine months to extinguish; the costs to restore the Kuwaiti petrol infrastructure exceeded 5 billion US dollar.