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A work force of 11,000 men and women is being deployed to try to extinguish more than 600 Kuwaiti oil-well fires and to get the oil flowing again, the man who organized the project says.

"Any way you look at it, it is the hardest and biggest job I've ever seen," said Raymond Gravier, camp manager for Bechtel Ltd., which has been contracted by the Kuwaiti government to organize what is being called the "Al Awda Project" (Al Awda means "return" in Arabic).Gravier, 57, of Montreal, who previously has worked for Bechtel on projects in Indonesia, Iraq, Colombia, Venezuela and James Bay, Quebec, arrived last week.

"The logistics here are huge because the Iraqis left nothing in this country," he said. "No batteries. No tires. No food. No water. No phones. When I say nothing, I really mean nothing. We've even got to order our stationery from outside."

Gravier said he wasn't allowed to say how much the cleanup campaign will cost, but he said it would take at least three years.

Bechtel, which has its headquarters in San Francisco, will employ about 4,400 of the 11,000 Al Awda workers. The Kuwait National Petroleum Co. and its subsidiary, Kuwait Oil Co., will engage the rest, Gravier said.

About 1,000 of Bechtel's employees will be Europeans and North Americans, he said. The rest will be unskilled workers from Asia.