Ecopetrol to Call for Cartagena bids 1Q04

Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol plans to call for bids in the first quarter of 2004 for a US$625mn EPC contract to increase capacity at its Cartagena refinery, an Ecopetrol source told BNamericas.

The project is also designed to improve the quality of refinery products for sale to the domestic market and export to the Caribbean and the US Gulf Coast. The work will increase capacity by 75,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 140,000b/d. The winning bidder would have about two and a half years to complete the project, as full capacity operations are scheduled for late 2006, the source said.

The bidding will be open to international companies, and Ecopetrol would prefer a consortium of foreign and local companies, the source said. A consortium of Italy's Technip and local affiliate Tipiel won the US$18mn contract for the basic design and management of the project, and plans to complete front end engineering design (FEED) studies by December this year, the source said.

The government must approve the final project design after the engineering studies are completed, the source said, adding, "It's reasonable to assume it would take the government one or two months to revise the figures." The Technip consortium will help Ecopetrol select the winning bidder for the EPC contract, though Ecopetrol will have the final say, the source said. Most of the main contracts have been awarded, but a few small technology contracts remain to be awarded this year, the source said.

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