British Contractors Form Queue to Lobby Bechtel for Iraq Work

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Byline: JAMES ROSSITER;JAKE LLOYD-SMITH

BRITISH companies eager to secure a slice of reconstruction work in Iraq are inundating Bechtel, the main US project manager, with statements of interest.

A London-based spokesman for Bechtel said: "We are having four or five approaches an hour."

Engineering and construction companies Costain, Balfour Beattie and Amey are hopeful they can win some of the more sophisticated subcontracts.

San Francisco-based Bechtel was awarded a $680 million ([pounds sterling]425 million) contract by the US Agency for Internat ional Development (USAID) for the preliminary reconstruction work.

The programme will cover Iraqi seaports and airports, road and rail systems, irrigation works and public buildings. The share-out of contracts has prompted criticism that the US administration will reward companies from allies such as Britain with work while shunning those whose governments acted against the war, notably France and Germany.

Sources familiar with the bid process said Chinese companies were set to be surprise winners.

"American business and government know they should cut the Chinese in if they want to win a much bigger slice of any future bilateral trade with China itself," a source said. …