Evan as military action heats up all over Iraq, the focus in some circles has already switched to what happens when the war is over. How will Iraq be rebuilt and what companies are in line to reap the benefit of what promise to be very lucrative contracts?
AS COALITION FORCES go about the dismantling of the Iraqi regime, the next major undertaking on Iraqi soil is already being planned and forces marshaled for the rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure — including seaports, airports, and roads. The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, expected to start letting contracts this week on what could eventually amount to between $25 billion and $100 billion worth of business for U.S. companies. It will likely be a “collective” effort, according to Jim Abadie, senior vice president at Bovis Lend Lease.
“A program manager may be in charge of the project and then a series of other companies tackling different things,” he said.
For 10 months, Bovis Lend Lease managed all the contractors at the Ground Zero site in New York City. The company is not involved in bidding on the Iraq contracts, but it’s familiar with projects on this scale. The initial assessment teams, sent in quickly after the shooting stops, will be concerned with one thing — safety, according to company president Pete Marchetto.
“I have to believe that one of the first assessments they do when they go in is to make sure they understand what’s in those buildings and how to approach the removal of that debris,” he said.
The USAID has identified five of the seven lead bidders for the initial round of work. They are the Bechtel Group, of San Francisco; Fluor Corp., of Aliso Viejo, Calif.; Halliburton, of Houston; Louis Berger Group, of East Orange, N.J. and the Parsons Corp., of Pasadena, Calif.
The first round of contracts could total $900 million. None of the companies would comment on their prospects. But the company that starts the job will earn its money, according to Mike Garvin, a professor at Columbia University’s civil engineering department.
“You’re gonna have to, one, assess the transportation infrastructure, what sort of shape it is in,” he said. “Can it support the kind of equipment that is going to be needed to do a rebuilding effort?”
While the U.S. government is the one awarding the contracts, administration officials have said Iraqi oil will pay the bill. That will work, but it won’t solve the long term problem in the region, according to Hal Raveche, President of Stevens Institute of Technology, who has extensive contacts in the Gulf.
“Oil dollars did pay for the building of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait,” he said. “But what they did not accomplish, and is still needed in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and will really take away the threat of terrorism, was to create jobs.”
U.S. companies aren’t the only ones with an eye on the rebuilding of Iraq. There are many companies based in the Persian Gulf, particularly in Kuwait, that are also poised to move in once the shooting stops.