Contractors in the Middle East say the Corps of Engineers has been ‘sounding out’ US ‘domestic’ construction firms to establish whether any are interested in work in Iraq.

USAID has invited six of America’s largest contractors to manage around $900 million of reconstruction work. Fluor Daniel, Kellogg Brown & Root, Perini International, Parsons Engineering Corporation, Louis Berger International and Bechtel have all received request for proposal (RFP) documents from US Agency for International Development (USAID) for the contract to manage the reconstruction of the country’s civil and industrial infrastructure after a war.

A USAID official says they hoped to award the contract by the middle of March. However she admitted the exact scope of works was not defined and would ‘depend on how much damage is done in a war’.

Several companies contacted by MEED admitted they were concerned that all of the work would go to US contractors despite the UK’s strong support of the US.

‘You only need to look at Kuwait after it was relieved to see what might happen,’ said one senior British contractor. ‘The US Corps of Engineers stitched up Kuwait. Similarly, British companies got little out of the Balkans.’

The US Army Corps of Engineers confirms that it carried out a ‘market survey’ of companies operating in the US Central Command area in mid-February.

However a spokeswoman denied the Corps was about to issue an RFP for infrastructure work in post war Iraq: ‘We have not put out any solicitation for companies to work on reconstruction work in Iraq and nor are we planning to at the moment. We work throughout the region and what we are doing is prudent planning.’