1980–1999: Engineering for the future

In 1980 Bechtel posted $11.3 billion in new bookings, more than double the previous year and the highest ever, to that point. Crews were at work on 132 major projects in 20 countries. 

Visit whoisbechtel.com for an interactive experience of our long history.

1980–1989: Surviving a Global Downturn


We are awarded our first contracts to clean up radioactive government research sites in U.S.

OK tedi1981

The first gold is mined at the Ok Tedi gold and copper project. Bechtel, in a joint venture, provides engineering, procurement, and construction services. The project mines, processes, and ships more than a million tons of copper ore from an isolated mountaintop in Papua New Guinea between 1987 and 1994 alone.


In New Zealand, Bechtel begins constructing the world’s first commercial facility to convert natural gas to gasoline.


Bechtel provides start-up engineering and construction support for the completion and commercial operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power facility in California.


Bechtel begins work on the Ankara-Gerede Motorway.


Bechtel gets involved in completing the Channel Tunnel, connecting England and France. One of the century’s largest engineering and construction projects and the world’s largest privately financed infrastructure project, the tunnel opens in 1994.


In a joint venture with Parsons Brinckerhoff, Bechtel begins construction on the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel project, America’s largest infrastructure job, which includes a freeway beneath Boston and a tunnel beneath Boston Harbor.


Riley P. Bechtel becomes president of Bechtel Group.

1990–1999: Leading the Way to Change


Bechtel helps manage the Hong Kong Airport Core Programme—10 projects that include construction of bridges, tunnels, railroads, and an international airport at Chek Lap Kok, and extensive land reclamation.

1991athens metro

A Bechtel-managed consortium begins an ambitious expansion and modernization of the Athens Metro subway system in time for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece.


In the aftermath of the Gulf War, Bechtel leads the effort to put out 650 oil-well fires and rebuild Kuwait’s oil infrastructure, destroyed by Iraqi troops.


A Bechtel joint venture is selected to provide design, procurement, and construction management services for a Motorola facility in Tianjin, China, that will produce a variety of electronic products and provide office space. Bechtel will work for Motorola in China for the rest of the decade.


The 800-mile (1,287-kilometer) Bechtel-built PGT-PG&E natural gas pipeline expansion is completed.


As part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Bechtel helps Russia develop a comprehensive chemical weapons destruction plan.


Bechtel is the first U.S. firm granted construction license in China: Motorola semiconductor manufacturing facility.


El Abra, Chile: copper mine.


Bechtel is selected as the prime contractor for Atlantic LNG, the Western Hemisphere’s first liquefied natural gas plant in 25 years. The plant, on the island of Trinidad, becomes the largest single investment ever in the Caribbean.


Bechtel begins work on an $800 million, 440-megawatt power plant in Quezon Province in the Philippines.


Bechtel starts a 93-mile (150-kilometer) section of the Croatian Motorway.


Bechtel begins a copper and zinc mine high in the Peruvian Andes at the Antamina Mine. 


Bechtel begins the high-speed rail link connecting the Channel Tunnel to London, to provide seamless high-speed passage among London, Paris and Brussels.


Bechtel takes on building the Jubilee Line extension of the London Underground.


Bechtel works on mustard agent stockpile destruction at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. 


Bechtel builds a shelter for 20,000 Kosovar refugees at Camp Hope, Albania.