WELSH WATER last week named preferred bidders for 15 year framework contracts, the longest to be set up in the water sector since privatisation in 1990.
The contracts are worth a total of £1.5bn and start in April 2005. They cover capital and operations investment and could run until 2020, subject to five year performance reviews.
Traditionally water companies have awarded five year contracts to consultants, contractors and suppliers to coincide with the five year regulatory review period.
'There certainly is a trend emerging for extending contracts. Companies are looking to build longer relationships, ' Black & Veatch director David Nickols told NCE.
'The companies that are more into collaborative working are looking at longer contracts.
They will give security of work, ' said British Water director Paul Mullord.
Welsh Water's preferred partners are United Utilities, Kelda, Amec, Black & Veatch Contracting, Costain, Meica Process Laing Utilities and Morrison Construction. They will form an Asset Management Alliance.
Contractors in the alliance will each have responsibility for specific work areas including civil engineering construction, wastewater processes and mains rehabilitation.
'Clearly this gives companies a greater ability to plan ahead and allows us to offer more job security to our employees in Wales, ' said United Utilities.