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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Halliburton's Iraq role expands
Basra oil refinery in Shuaiba, southern Iraq
Halliburton could have more work

Halliburton's role in post-war Iraq includes operating Iraqi oil fields, new documents have revealed.

Previously, the US Army Corps of Engineers had described the contract given to Halliburton - run by US Vice President Dick Cheney between 1995 and 2000 - as putting out fires at oil wells during the conflict.

The emergency contract for firefighting and capping Iraqi oil wells was awarded to Halliburton without a bidding process in March.

Responding to questions from a US Congressman, the US Army Corps of Engineers has revealed that the contract included "operation of facilities and distribution of products".

In a letter to senior Democrat Henry Waxman on Friday, Army Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers added the contract with Halliburton's subsidiary KBR was a "bridge" to one that is open to other bidders.

"We will limit orders under this contract to those services required prior to the availability of competitively awarded contracts," he wrote

'Helping out'

Halliburton said the wider role for its subsidiary KBR was announced on 24 March, when the deal was made public.

"KBR's initial task involves hazard and operational assessment, extinguishing oil well fires, capping oil well blowouts, as well as responding to any oil spills," the original Halliburton statement said.

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

The Halliburton spokeswoman said KBR was currently assisting Iraq's oil ministry.

"Only now, over five weeks after the contract was first disclosed, are members of Congress and the public learning that Halliburton may be asked to pump and distribute Iraqi oil under the contract," said senior Democrat Henry Waxman, who received the confirmation from the US Army.

New deal

Mr Waxman sits on the House of Representatives' committee on government reform.

Mr Cheney's office has repeatedly denied the vice president had a role in awarding the contract.

The US government has been criticised for its handling of the reconstruction of Iraq because only a select group of US companies have been invited to bid for the contracts.

The US Army Corps of Engineers said the Halliburton deal was a temporary measure before a contract was put out to tender in the coming months.

It expects a replacement contract to be signed by the end of August.

The US Army said in early April that Halliburton had been paid $50.3m out of the contract that could be worth up to $7bn over two years.

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