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29Apr93 COLOMBIA: COLOMBIA FORAY FOR BRIT GAS.

Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol is poised to invite British Gas to bid for a $500 million (£375 million) pipeline project.It is understood that the company appears on an international shortlist which includes French company Electricite de Gas.The centrepiece of the project is a 700 km gas pipeline running north to south, but a series of smaller pipelines will set up a gas grid between cities.Constructing such pipelines would call for enormous civil engineering expertise as they would have to cross the Andes.It is believed that the scheme would be run under a lease-back arrangement. The successful bidder would finance the project and provide construction expertise; in return, the scheme would be leased back from the government and a tariff imposed on the use of the pipeline over an agreed period.British Gas will be part of a London Chamber of Commerce trade mission to Colombia next month, but the company said: 'We have no immediate plans to invest in the country.'However, it is believed that if the Colombian project looks viable, British Gas is unlikely to turn it down. CONSTRUCTION NEWS