World Bank hires Aberdeen’s Wood to get Balkans transport back on track

Wood is led by chief executive Robin Watson, who unveiled half-year results earlier this week. Picture: Contributed
Wood is led by chief executive Robin Watson, who unveiled half-year results earlier this week. Picture: Contributed
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Wood, the Aberdeen-headquartered energy and engineering services giant that struck a deal this week to sell its nuclear business, has been appointed by the World Bank to improve transport resilience in the Balkans.

The firm, which operates in more than 60 countries employing tens of thousands of people, will assess the potential of shifting freight movements in the Western Balkans to alternate forms of transport such as rail and inland waterways.

At present, most freight in the region is transported via roads that are susceptible to climatic events, resulting in delays at crossings.

The work will build on an existing study that Wood is carrying out on behalf of the World Bank that is examining the impact and severity of climatic events and natural disasters on the resilience of the strategic road network in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The projects should help guide policy and decision-makers towards the priority roads that require further investment.

Rob Brown, president of Wood’s environment and infrastructure solutions business in Europe, said: “Across the Western Balkans region, much of the transport infrastructure is ageing and struggling to cope with population growth, weather related events and the increased freight volumes using the network.

“With budgets constrained, any investment needs to be targeted in the right areas. Wood is delighted to work with the World Bank on these studies which will ultimately help to improve trade and economic performance and make a real difference to the communities in this region.”

Romain Pison, transport lead at the World Bank, added: “Through the previous resilience study, Wood demonstrated a real understanding of the serious issues affecting the strategic regional road network and a pragmatic, robust approach to understanding pinch points on the network.

“We now look forward to utilising their expertise as we extend our assessment to the wider freight intermodal network.”

Earlier this week, Wood unveiled a deal to sell its nuclear business for £250m as it looks to trim debt and focus on other areas of the business.

News of the disposal came as the group delivered a 28 per cent hike in first-half operating profit, before exceptional items, to $160m (£131m) and left its full-year outlook unchanged. The interim divided was nudged up to 11.4 cents.