British consultants are in talks with US construction firms over contracts in Iraq.
Colin Adams, the chief executive of the British Consultants and Construction Bureau, which held a meeting on the issue last week, confirmed that members were talking to American contractors.

He said: "Although there is nothing concrete on the table, several of our members are approaching US companies and are discussing how they can get involved in reconstruction."

Atkins and Mott MacDonald were among the 75 firms who attended the meeting last Thursday.

Contractors Costain and Balfour Beatty have said they are in discussion with The Washington Group over work for the US Army Corp of Engineers.

A spokesperson for Atkins said: "We have been talking to a number of US companies with whom we have relationships, including Halliburton. We could see a valuable partnership at subcontract level with them."

American energy services company Halliburton has been awarded a primary contract to fight oil-well fires and repair oil infrastructure. This contract is worth up to £1.5bn over two years.

Mott Macdonald director Peter Chesworth said: "There may be the opportunity for companies to rehabilitate old projects. I think Iraq is potentially a very good market for us."

Last week Rod Macdonald, chairman of the Association of Consulting Engineers and Buro Happold chief, emphasised the need for British involvement in the reconstruction. Speaking at the ACE annual awards, he said many UK firms already had a sound knowledge of Iraq.