|Privately held company|
|Industry||Engineering, Construction and Project Management|
|Founder||Warren A. Bechtel|
|Headquarters||Blue Shield of California Building
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Riley P. Bechtel, Chairman
Brendan Bechtel, President and COO
Bill Dudley, CEO
|Revenue||$32.3 bn (2015)|
|Owner||Bechtel family and various internally elected employees|
Number of employees
Bechtel Corporation (Bechtel Group) is the largest construction and civil engineering company in the United States, and the 9th-largest privately owned company in the United States in 2016. Its headquarters are in the South of Market, San Francisco.
- 1 History
- 2 Locations and operational activities
- 3 Management
- 4 Financials and rankings
- 5 Major projects
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Founding and early years
Bechtel's business activities began in 1898 when cattle farmer Warren A. Bechtel moved from Peabody, Kansas, to the Oklahoma Territory to construct railroads with his own team of mules. Bechtel moved his family frequently between construction sites around the western United States for the next several years, eventually moving to Oakland, California in 1904, where he worked as the superintendent on the Western Pacific Railroad. In 1906, W. A. Bechtel won his first subcontract to build part of the Oroville-to-Oakland section of the Western Pacific Railroad. That same year, he bought his own steam shovel, becoming a pioneer of the new technology. He painted "W.A. Bechtel Co." on the side of the steam shovel, effectively establishing Bechtel as a company, though it was not yet incorporated.
Starting with the construction of Klamath River Highway in California in 1919, Bechtel ventured into jobs outside of building railroads. The company built roads, bridges, and highways throughout the western United States. The company worked on its first hydroelectric projects in the 1920s for Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California.
By the time Bechtel incorporated in 1925, it was the leading construction company in the western United States. In 1929, Warren's son, Stephen, urged his father to take on the company's first pipeline project. Bechtel began working with California Standard Oil Company to build pipelines and refineries.
In January 1931, Bechtel joined other contractors in the west to form Six Companies, Inc., a consortium created to bid for a contract from the US government to construct the Hoover Dam. Six Companies won the bid in March and construction on the dam began in the summer of 1931.
WWII, overseas expansion and the nuclear age
Warren Bechtel died unexpectedly in 1933 while in Moscow on business. He was succeeded by his son, Stephen Bechtel, Sr., who became both the head of Bechtel and chief executive of the Hoover Dam project. Under his leadership, the Hoover Dam was finished in 1935. The project was the largest of its kind in US history at the time and Bechtel's first megaproject.
During World War II, the United States Maritime Commission invited the company to bid for a contract to build half of their order of 60 cargo ships. The company had no prior experience in shipbuilding, but bid for the entire 60 ships. Between 1941 and 1945, Bechtel's wartime shipyards, including Marinship and Calship, built 560 vessels. Bechtel also worked on a pipeline from the Yukon to Alaska called Canol for the United States Department of War during this time period.
Under Stephen Bechtel, Sr., the company diversified its projects and expanded its work into other countries. The company also focused on turnkey projects, a concept Stephen Bechtel, Sr. pioneered, in which Bechtel handled a project from planning and design through construction.
Bechtel’s first job outside the US was building the Mene Grande pipeline in Venezuela in 1940. In 1947, Bechtel began construction on what was then the world's longest oil pipeline, the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, which began in Saudi Arabia, ran across Jordan and Syria, and ended in Lebanon. The company continued to expand globally throughout the 1940s, particularly in the Middle East.
In 1949, Bechtel began working with nuclear power after being contracted to build the Experimental Breeder Reactor I in Idaho. The company later built the Dresden Generating Station, the first commercial nuclear power plant, for Commonwealth Edison in Illinois in 1957.
Other major projects in the 1950s included the Trans Mountain Pipeline in 1952, an oil pipeline in Canada, and a preliminary study for the English Channel in 1959. Bechtel also began engineering work on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in 1959.
Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. took over for his father as president of the company as Stephen Bechtel, Sr. retired in 1960. During the 1960s and 1970s, Bechtel was involved in constructing 40 percent of the nuclear plants in the United States. In 1968, the company completed the largest nuclear plant in the US at the time, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, in California. In 1972, Bechtel was involved in approximately 20 percent of all of the United States' new power-generating capacity. By the end of the decade, the company had moved from nuclear power construction toward nuclear cleanup projects, including Three Mile Island in 1979.
Bechtel completed work on other megaprojects during the 1970s, including major airports in Saudi Arabia and the metro rail in Washington, D.C. In 1976, the company began work on the industrial city of Jubail in Saudi Arabia. The company's multiple construction contracts helped to transform the area from a small village to a city with a population of over a quarter of a million people.
In the 1980s, Bechtel handled the project management of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. The company also built the Ankara-Gerede Motorway in Turkey as part of the network of roadways linking Europe and Asia in 1986.
In 1987, Bechtel was awarded a contract for project management services of an undersea tunnel linking the UK and France called the Channel Tunnel or "Chunnel." The tunnel was completed in 1994.
Increased business and visibility
The recession of the 1980s turned the company’s focus toward new areas of growth including environmental cleanup and alternative energy projects. In 1989 Riley Bechtel was named president of the company.
In 1991, Bechtel, in a joint venture with Parsons Brinckerhoff, broke ground on Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel Project or "Big Dig," a project the company had been in charge of since 1986. The Big Dig was, at the time, the largest and most complex urban transportation project ever undertaken in the United States. The 20-year project was critiqued for rising costs and an increasing scope of work, as the Big Dig became more complex than was originally estimated. Criticism of the project increased in 2005 when a leak sprang in one of the new tunnels. In the summer of 2006, a faulty tunnel ceiling panel collapsed, killing a motorist. Litigation ensued, and in January 2008, Bechtel settled with federal and state officials for $352 million with other contractors involved paying smaller amounts.
In 1994, Bechtel began work on the US$20 billion Hong Kong Airport Core Programme, which was the largest civil engineering project at the time and included a new airport and nine other infrastructure projects. Bechtel's other major projects during the 1990s included the Athens Metro system, the Atlantic LNG in Trinidad, the Croatian Motorway, the Jubilee Line Extension for the London Underground, Quezon Power Plant in the Philippines, and a semiconductor plant in China. Bechtel also managed design and construction of facilities for Olympic games: the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, and the Winter games in Nagano, Japan in 1998. In the early 2000s, the company provided planning and management services for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2001, Bechtel was part of a consortium to project manage the US$4.3 billion construction of the CSPC Nanhai Petrochemicals Complex in China.
Several projects in the 2000s attracted controversy. In 2000, after a protest against water prices being raised by a utility partially owned by Bechtel in Bolivia, the company pulled out of the country and later filed suit against Bolivia for $25 million in losses. The claim was settled in 2006 for $0.30.
In 2001, Bechtel began work on the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the Hanford site in Washington state. The project is a highly complex plant for the treatment of radioactive liquid waste that has employed new technologies and construction techniques that are the first of their kind. As of 2013, it is considered the most complex project in the United States. Management of the project has been the subject of controversy including Department of Energy's Inspector General reports and Government Accountability Office studies regarding rising costs, nuclear safety and quality, and whistleblower allegations. For example, in 2013 the DOE Inspector General concluded that "Bechtel determined that there was a systemic problem and a breakdown in controls over the review of design changes", but that the company had taken steps to correct the problems.
In 2003, Bechtel won a $680 million contract to begin rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq for U.S. Agency for International Development. The contract led to the company being accused of both non-competitive bidding and war profiteering. Bechtel won a competitively-bid second contract in January 2004, and completed 97 of 99 task orders of the contract, returning the two remaining projects due to the escalating security concerns in the country.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Bechtel was one of four companies hired by FEMA to build temporary housing. Bechtel delivered over 35,000 trailers in under a year for displaced residents in Mississippi, though the company was criticized by officials and in the media for the cost and quality of work.
In 2007, Bechtel began work on the Romanian A3 motorway (Autostrada Transilvania) and Albanian motorways. Bechtel and the Romanian National Roads Authority jointly agreed on a settlement to end the contract for works on the Autostrada Transilvania in 2013. The Albanian Motorway was opened to traffic in 2010 on schedule.
Other major projects at the end of the 2000s included the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state, Jamnagar Refinery expansion in India, Equatorial GuineaLNG, and Oak Creek Power Plant in Wisconsin.
Locations and operational activities
Bechtel's major operational locations are in Brisbane, Calgary, Dubai, Frederick, Maryland, Houston, London, New Delhi, Reston, Virginia, San Francisco, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei, and Washington, D.C.
The company's main headquarters are located at its San Francisco office, while the Reston office houses the company's global operational headquarters, as well as the headquarters of the Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit and the North American offices of the Infrastructure global business unit. The company's Oil, Gas & Chemicals unit is based in the Houston office. The Washington office maintains both a Political Action Committee and a lobbying program.
Outside of North America, the Infrastructure unit’s headquarters is located at the company’s London office. The Mining & Metals unit is headquartered at the company’s Brisbane office and also maintains operations in Santiago and Dubai. In 2013, the company established its global center of engineering excellence in Dubai focusing on rail and marine projects. It established innovation centers in Houston and London in 2015 to test new technology.
Bechtel works on global megaprojects through its four business units. The company frequently manages work from design through construction phases. Its corporate values include safety, quality, and ethics.
The Infrastructure unit handles transportation, fossil and renewable power, transmission and communications. Infrastructure projects include highways and bridges, rail, ports, and aviation projects, as well as hydroelectric facilities. Bechtel has built more than 17,000 miles of roadway as well as 20 towns and cities globally. It has worked on 80 port and harbor projects, and 90 major airport projects.
Bechtel's Infrastructure unit is leading a consortium in the engineering, procurement and construction of the lines One and Two of the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia metro, which began construction in April 2014. In March 2014, it was announced Bechtel is part of a consortium to build a hydroelectric power plant for Manitoba Hydro in Manitoba, Canada. Additionally, in April 2015, it was announced that Bechtel is managing the completion of the Spadina subway extension for the Toronto Transit Commission. The unit is involved in several other ongoing projects as of August 2015, including building national infrastructure in Gabon and the continuous development of Jubail in Saudi Arabia. Bechtel is participating in the building of London's Crossrail, a $24 billion project that will connect commuter towns east and west of London and is intended to serve an estimated 200 million people a year upon completion. As of June 2015, the project is 65% complete.
The unit completed Phase I of an extension of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail in Northern Virginia and completed the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. It completed a 77.4 km four-lane motorway in Kosovo, which was finished a year ahead of schedule in November 2013, and was selected to build a new 37-mile motorway linking Kosovo's capital, Pristina, to Macedonia. The unit is also building projects for Google Fiber in several markets in the Southeastern U.S.
Power projects in 2014 include the construction of three natural gas-fired combined cycle facilities in Texas and Virginia for Panda Power Funds. Bechtel's renewable projects include the world's largest solar thermal project, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California, which began producing power in February 2014 and has the capacity to double solar thermal power production in the United States. The unit also completed the Catalina Solar photovoltaic generating facility and the construction of the California Valley Solar Ranch in 2013.
In August 2013, the unit completed the Hanna Region Transmission Development, a power transmission project in Canada, which included 1,200 new transmission towers and 219 miles of transmission lines.
Mining & Metals
The Mining & Metals unit works on projects related to the mining and production of materials such as aluminum, coal, copper, iron ore and other metals and minerals. The unit operates on six continents and has completed more than 2,500 major mining projects as well as over 1,000 mining studies.
In September 2013, the unit completed the expansion of the Kooragang Coal Terminal in Port Waratah in Australia, increasing capacity to 145 million tons. The unit won a contract to build a water system and desalination plant for the Escondida copper mine in Chile in December 2013, and was awarded a contract to build the Shaheen Alumina Refinery project in the United Arab Emirates in 2015.
Oil, Gas & Chemicals
The Oil Gas & Chemical unit designs and builds liquefied natural gas (LNG), oil, pipeline, petrochemicals, and natural gas facilities. The unit also constructs and tests tanks for LNG storage.
Bechtel is overseeing a third of the world’s LNG liquefaction capacity under construction. Since 2011 the unit has been building three LNG plants on Curtis Island in Queensland, Australia. The unit is also constructing the Wheatstone project, a two-train LNG plant that is one of Australia's largest energy resource efforts.
Bechtel is responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of two LNG trains for the Sabine Pass Liquefaction project in Louisiana. In May 2013, the unit was awarded a contract for the front-end engineering design of the Pacific NorthWest LNG in Vancouver, BC. In December 2013, the unit was contracted to build three LNG trains, three LNG storage tanks, and two berths in Corpus Christi, Texas. In August 2015, Bechtel was contracted by Delfin LNG, to provide front-end engineering and design for a planned floating LNG vessel at Port Delfin off the coastline of Louisiana, which would be the first in the U.S. Also in 2015, the unit was awarded a contract to manage the engineering, procurement, and construction of 12 new natural-gas pipelines in Thailand.
In June 2013, Bechtel was named the project manager of a megapetrochemical complex in Qatar at the Ras Laffan Industrial City. Bechtel's technology was licensed for facility upgrades at the Rijeka Refinery in Croatia in February 2014. In March 2014, the unit was awarded a contract to construct facilities in Georgia for the Shah Deniz II gas field in Azerbaijan. The company was part of a consortium selected by PTT GC America in 2015 to provide front-end engineering and design for a new petrochemical complex in Belmont County, Ohio.
Nuclear, Security, & Environmental
The Nuclear, Security, & Environmental unit handles the company’s government work and commercial nuclear businesses. The unit supports U.S. and international governmental organizations including the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy.
As of July 2015, Bechtel leads a consortium that manages three national security-related facilities in the U.S.: the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the combined Y-12 National Security Complex/Pantex Plant. Bechtel won thirteen sustainability awards from the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2013 and five in 2014 for it work with these facilities.
Other government work includes the construction of the facilities to treat the liquid radioactive waste stored underground at the Department of Energy's Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington. The unit also manages U.S. Department of Defense contracts to dismantle and dispose of stored chemical weapons, including decades-old mustard and nerve gas from World War II. In May 2012, a consortium including Bechtel began construction on a structure that will safely confine the damaged Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Number 4. In June 2013 the unit completed design and construction on a U.S. Missile Defense Agency project at Fort Greely, Alaska, which included three missile fields and forty silos. In November 2013, Bechtel was awarded a US$7 billion contract to work on a nuclear propulsion project for the United States Navy. In 2014 the U.K. Ministry of Defence selected Bechtel to support the Royal Navy and Air Force on procurement and managed support services. Additionally, in 2015, Bechtel was contracted to provide testing and operations for the Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee.
Ongoing commercial projects include work on the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor. In June 2013, Bechtel won an engineering, procurement and construction contract to replace three steam generators at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. Overall, Bechtel has worked on approximately 150 nuclear power plants as of June 2013.
Bill Dudley is CEO and Brendan Bechtel is president and chief operating officer. Bechtel is the fifth generation of the Bechtel family to lead the company. Riley P. Bechtel is chairman of the board, after stepping down as CEO in 2013. Peter Dawson has been chief financial officer since 2014.
Several high-ranking Bechtel executives at times held important positions in the United States government. Notably, Reagan's cabinet had two former Bechtel executives: Caspar Weinberger and George Shultz, serving as Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State respectively. Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld were also on the Bechtel payroll.
Financials and rankings
In 2016, Bechtel ranked ninth on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies by revenue, and it was ranked 7th on Fortune's list of the 25 Most Important Private Companies. It has been named the top U.S. Contractor by revenue by Engineering News-Record for eighteen years in a row and ranked third on the publication's Top 250 International Contractors list by revenue for 2015.
Major projects have included:
- Hoover Dam completed in 1936
- Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed in 1977
- Bekme hydroelectric dam in Turkey completed in 1991
- Petrochemical plants in Iraq completed in 1991
- Dabhol Power Project Phase 1 completed in 1992
- Kuwait reconstruction after the Gulf War completed in 1993
- Channel Tunnel completed in 1994
- Hong Kong International Airport completed in 1998
- Tengiz Field expansion in Kazakhstan completed in 1999
- Chemical weapons disposal facility in Anniston, Alabama completed in 2001
- Three natural gas power plants in Turkey completed in 2002
- Fissile Materials Storage Facility at Mayak, Ozersk, Russian Federation, completed in 2002
- Araucária Power project, Brazil, completed in 2003
- Jorge Chávez International Airport expansion in Lima, Peru completed in 2005
- Boston Big Dig completed in 2007
- Rebuilding sections of the A1 Motorway between Zagreb and Split in Croatia completed in 2008
- The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant and enriched uranium storage facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, completed in 2009
- Rrëshen-Kalimash Highway in Albania completed in 2010
- New Doha International Airport completed in 2011
- Silver Line Phase I extension to Dulles Airport completed in 2014
- New Muscat International Airport Terminal due to be completed in 2016
- Transylvania Motorway due to be completed in 2016
- Riyadh Metro due to be completed in 2019
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- Historic Construction Projects
- Mead, p. 207
- Bechtel has ties to Washington, and in Iraq New York Times, 2003
- Bechtel in Iraq
- Bechtel and GE file arbitration over Dabhol Power Company Bechtel, 22 September 2003
- Bechtel: Kuwait Reconstruction
- Bechtel: Channel Tunnel
- Bechtel: Hong Kong International Airport
- Tengiz field expansion project awarded to Bechtel-Enka Joint Venture Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections, 29 July 1997
- Bechtel National team awarded $306m contract to design , build and operate chemical agent disposal facility in Maryland Bechtel, 6 October 1998
- Intergen and Enka complete $1.5bn financing of major power plants in Turkey Businesswire, 28 September 2000
- US official says Mayak Warhead storage facility to open in November Bellona, 19 June 2002
- Ex-Im Bank to loan Bechtel $178m for Araucaria BN Americas, 8 October 2001
- Joge Chávez International Airport
- Bechtel and Parsons Brinkerhoff reach settlement in Big Dig Bechtel, 23 January 2008
- Ex-Im Bank finances $250m in US exports to build Croatian highway Ex-Im Bank, 22 October 1998
- Bechtel: Transformation of Oak Ridge
- Albania and Kosova: Connected Again
- Bechtel: New Doha International Airport
- Dulles Transit Partners
- Oman Airports Management Committee
- Bechtel drives a highway through the heart of Transylvania Der Spiegel, 1 August 2008
- "Riyadh Metro: Bechtel-led team starts tunneling". Arab News. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- Denton, Sally. "The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World", Simon & Schuster, 2016.
- McCartney, Laton. Friends in High Places, Ballantine Books, 1988.
- Mead, Robert Douglas. Journeys Down the Line: Building the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Doubleday, 1978.