LIMA, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Peru may bar Enagas SA from bidding on a new contract for a natural gas pipeline because the Spanish company had worked on the project as scandal-plagued Brazilian builder Odebrecht’s junior partner, the energy and mines minister said on Tuesday.
Odebrecht, at the center of a growing graft scandal, lost the $5 billion pipeline project last month after missing a financing deadline on worries about corruption.
Odebrecht owned 55 percent of the project, Enagas 25 percent and Peruvian construction group Grana y Montero 20 percent.
In an interview with local broadcaster RPP, Gonzalo Tamayo said the government was evaluating whether to exclude Enagas or Grana from a new tender for the pipeline project that would be held within nine months.
“In the case of Enagas they have a limitation because they were the operators of the natural gas pipeline,” Tamayo said when asked if Enagas or Grana would be able to submit bids. “We’ve commissioned legal briefs to tell us specifically if the companies you mentioned should have a limitation or not.”
Enagas said it was focused on terminating the pipeline concession and might later consider taking part in a new bid “as long as the government of Peru thinks it would be correct.”
Odebrecht and Enagas had won the right to build and operate the pipeline in 2014 during the previous government after their sole competitor was disqualified the day of the auction. Grana joined the consortium in 2015.
Prosecutors in Peru have been investigating the pipeline bid and are in talks with Odebrecht on who took part in $29 million in bribes the company has acknowledged distributing to secure public work projects in Peru between about 2005 and 2014.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has said that he wants the new pipeline contract to have a smaller pricetag.
Odebrecht has been barred from bidding on any future contract in Peru. (Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)