Amec says "major milestones" are being achieved in Iraq as it announces a pre-tax profit rise of 5%.

Amec has said that its projects in Iraq are "proceeding largely to plan". The company said that that major milestones were being achieved by its joint venture company Fluor, which is working on projects worth $450m. Amec is working in Iraq on restoring power generation and water infrastructure with joint venture partner Bechtel.

Amec also reported a 5% rise in its interim pre-tax profit amid a continued move from traditional building into support services.

The first-half results show pre-tax profit of £37.5m, up from £35.7m in 2003. 69% was accounted for by services activities, compared to 61% last year. Turnover fell from £2,320.6m to £2,239m for the same period.

The results reflect Amec’s shift away from traditional construction work and towards engineering and technical services. Chief executive Sir Peter Mason believes the strategy will continue to yield profit improvement in 2004.

He said: ‘Our exit from low margin, high risk construction reinforces our focus on higher value services. Looking forward, we see substantial opportunities to deliver value for shareholders by leveraging our market position, especially in the energy and government sectors’.

Mason predicted that wind energy would be a particular area of growth for the company, which currently has a portfolio of wind farms totaling over 2000MW. The Scottish Land Court has recently ruled in favour of Amec’s proposed Edinbane wind farm on Skye, with construction expected to begin in 2005.