Kuwait's cabinet agreed on Monday to refer a giant oil refinery project to the state audit bureau after a group of politicians warned the government not to sign the final contracts or face questions in parliament.
Oil Minister Mohammad al-Olaim has already won support from a parliamentary committee over the award of contracts for the 615,000 barrels per day refinery in the Gulf Arab state.
The committee gave him the nod after investigating claims that some contracts were not awarded to the lowest bidder.
Despite that, deputies from the Popular Action bloc have continued to dispute the contracts. It says that among other issues, the government should not have awarded U.S. firm and project manager Fluor Corp a contract for utility and offsite services without a tender.
"The cabinet... approved today a request by the Minister of Oil... to assign to the Audit Bureau the task of examining and reviewing all procedures taken in the fourth refinery project and report back to the cabinet," state news agency KUNA cited Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah as saying.
The audit bureau monitors government revenue and expenditure.
The government has also asked state refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) to provide the bureau with all needed data and documents, he added.
The parliament has a history of challenging the government, and the last assembly dedicated much time to questioning ministers, which led to several resignations until the ruler of Kuwait called fresh elections in May.
Kuwait plans to boost refining capacity to 1.415 million bpd from around 930,000 bpd with the new plant and upgrades to two other refineries.
Al-Zour is scheduled to start operating in 2012, two years later than initially planned.
The refinery will be one of the world's largest and will replace the Gulf Arab state's aging 200,000 bpd Shuaiba plant.
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