As the business of rebuilding Libya gears up after its civil war, global firms are looking to resume work and pick up new projects.
Repairing the damaged Tripoli International Airport runway appears to be a top priority. The Libyan National Transition Council and civil administration officials are discussing repairs with Istanbul-based TAV Construction, which has dispatched an expert runway team to the capitol to assess the situation.
With the damaged runway, all current flights into Tripoli are using the military airport at Metiga, on the city's outskirts. Turkish Airlines was the first international carrier to have restarted flights, followed by Alitalia at the beginning of November. Air France, Egypt Air, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Austrian Airlines also intend to restart flights, officials say. Transportation Minister Anwar al-Fitouri said Libya's four airports would resume operations as soon as possible.
Libyan authorities and TAV also discussed resumption of construction on two new airport passenger terminals. The project was awarded in 2007 to a consortium of Portugal’s Bento Pedroso Construções, a subsidiary of Brazil's Odebrecht Engineering and Construction, TAV and Lebanon's Consolidated Contractors Co. Work on the monumental project halted in March due to the outbreak of hostilities. TAV Group CEO Sani Şener says work could restart as early as the first quarter of 2012, providing that worker safety is ensured.
Other Turkish companies with interrupted projects in Libya, such as Renaissance Construction Co., told ENR that they are hoping to resume work but are not yet sure how to proceed with Libyan officials.
But Turkey clearly is keen to take the lead in Libya’s reconstruction. In August, Turkey revealed that it had secretly funneled $300 million to the rebels fighting Gadhafi. During the same time, Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu flew to Tripoli, making him one of the first international dignitaries to visit the rebel stronghold. Turkish economy Minister Zafer Caglayan met with Libyan transitions officials earlier this month in Tripoli, accompanied by 250 business leaders.
The French and British also were vying for a piece of the action. A delegation of nearly 80 French companies visited Libya in early November, led by Pierre Lellouche, secretary of state in charge of trade. The U.K. Trade & Investment (UKTI) agency is betting that Libya's transition council will be favorably disposed to British assistance. UKTI Managing Director Edward Oakden recently returned from a trade mission to Libya.
But Robin Lamb, director general of the Libyan British Business Council, warned that it may still be too early to resume work, since there is still no government to sign contracts. British architects, meanwhile, are cautioning Libya not to give way to untrammeled development, according to U.K. press reports.
Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin says it doesn't know when its suspended operations will resume in Libya. "We are definitely more positive as each day passes and there is progress, but we are unable to predict exactly when things will resume entirely," says a company spokesperson. The Montreal-based company is involved in several Libyan ventures, including a prison, part of a water-supply system and an airport in Benghazi.
In contrast, China and Russia may face some problems due to their lack of support for the rebels. China, Russia and Brazil abstained in March from passing a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized use of force to impose a no-fly zone in Libya.
Before the conflict broke out, Chinese companies had 50 contracted projects in Libya worth a total of $18.8 billion. Thirteen government-owned enterprises—China Railway Construction Co Ltd., China State Construction Engineering Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp., among them—partly invested in these projects. The jobs range from housing and railway construction to oil and telecommunications.