COSTAIN chief executive Stuart Doughty has become the first British construction boss to declare publicly an interest in winning work to rebuild Iraq.
The firm, which last worked in Iraq in the early 1980s, has an association with the Middle East stretching back to 1934.
Costain currently carries out a number of contracts in the region, including a gas maintenance deal in Abu Dhabi.
Mr Doughty said: 'We are interested in the work and oil and gas is obviously of great interest. We have a skilled workforce out there that we can call on.'
He added: 'I think the work will be broken down to post-conflict repair work and long-term infrastructure work. We will be able to do both.'
But Mr Doughty echoed the views of many British firms in not wanting to appear insensitive while war rages on. He said: 'We are very mindful of the position at the moment. We have to proceed with caution.'
The US Agency for International Development will pump $600 million (£368 million) into rebuilding Iraq but it is expected that the US Army Corps of Engineers will co-ordinate the day-today running of the rebuilding work.
USAID is due to appoint a US primary contractor for the work by the end of the week. Details of the subcontracts, which British firms are expected to go for, will be made available at the same time.
A USAID spokesman said:
'The primary contractor is going to need to carry out an assessment of what needs to be done in co-ordination with the authorities on the ground.'
On Tuesday, USAID appointed Seattle firm Stevedoring Services of America to carry out a $4.8 million assessment and management contract at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.