Rebuilding Kuwait

Article excerpt

Two days before the US Air Force began bombing Baghdad, the US Corps of Engineers signed a $45 million contract with the Kuwaiti government-in-exile that calls for the military engineers to make a preliminary damage assessment and help put in place basic services. "We went right to them," said Kuwaiti Planning Minister Suleiman Muttawa. Cost estimates for cleaning up and rebuilding the country's infrastructure and petrochemical sector run as high as $100 billion.

Kuwait, slightly smaller than New Jersey, will need rehabilitation of a range of facilities, including roads, bridges, oil refineries and oil distribution systems, as well as water, electrical and telephone systems.

From San Francisco's Bechtel Group to Illinois-based Motorola Inc., US companies are lining up to get their share of the effort to put Kuwait back together again. Of $800 million in contracts signed so far, about 70 percent have gone to US firms, according to the Department of Commerce.

Because of American leadership in the ousting of Saddam Hussain from Kuwait, "US and British contractors probably will be favored over the others, including the Germans and Japanese," said Paul Jabbor, vice president for the Middle East at Banker's Trust Co. in New York.

The biggest winner so far appears to be Bechtel, which already has assembled a team of 70 engineers to plan the reconstruction of Kuwait's once mighty oil and gas production system. In addition, the company is project manager for the Gulf oil spill cleanup.

The Big Three automakers, General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation, have all won $10 million-plus orders for utility vehicles, trucks and cars.

Caterpillar Inc. has already shipped diesel-fueled electrical generators for emergency power and is seeking extensive contracts to supply heavy construction equipment. Motorola Inc. will supply emergency communications gear. Raytheon Co. got a $5.7 million contract for runway lights and air-traffic control equipment for Kuwait's airport.

A number of other US companies expect Kuwaiti business in view of the fact that they had originally built what has been destroyed. …