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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 13:31 GMT
US firm wins Umm Qasr deal
View of Umm Qasr under attack
There was greater resistance in Umm Qasr than the US expected
A US company has won a $4.8m (3m) contract to manage Umm Qasr port in southern Iraq.

The contract is the second awarded under US Government plans for reconstruction in Iraq.

Stevedoring Services of America will be responsible for operating Iraq's only deep-water port, with the aim of allowing food and other humanitarian and reconstruction materials and supplies to be delivered efficiently.

The company "will provide an initial port assessment, develop improvement plans... and supply technical expertise to ensure an adequate flow of through shipment", said the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the client for the project.

"The company will be responsible for the port pilots who will guide ships up the channel, and will manage the access of trucking companies to the port and establish a system of controls to avoid theft and corruption."

UK firms were said to be incensed by the solicitation of bids from US companies to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure

USAID did not say when work would start on the contract or how long it would last.

UK ports operator P&O said it had put in a bid for the Umm Qasr work but had been unsuccessful.

Oil well fires

US engineering firm Kellogg Brown & Root - part of Halliburton, the company once headed by US vice-president Dick Cheney - picked up a contract to put out oil well fires and repair oil facilities.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, which let the contract, said the work would be of "limited duration" and was on a "cost-plus" basis with no defined value.

The contractor said its initial task involved hazard assessment, putting out fires, capping oil well blowouts and responding to any oil spills.

"Following this task, KBR will perform emergency repair, as directed, to provide for the continuity of operations of the Iraqi oil infrastructure," it said.

KBR said it was awarded the contract because it was the only contractor that could start work at extremely short notice.

It subcontracted the firefighting element of the work to Houston-based firms Boots & Coots International Well Control and Wild Well Control.

UK complaints

Earlier this month, USAID invited five US engineering giants to submit bids for Iraq reconstruction work expected to be worth up to $900m.

The companies were Bechtel, Louis Berger, Fluor, Kellogg Brown & Root and The Parsons Corporation.

USAID plans call for operating ports and airports and repairing utility networks, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals.

UK construction firms have complained privately about not being invited to bid. But it is thought possible that some will pick up sub-contracting work from US lead contractors.

Danny Clayton, Boots and Coots senior firefighter
"We deal with all kinds of oil problems worldwide"

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