U.S. offers on a major international coal tender issued by a Scottish utility will be half-hearted, according to U.S. traders looking into the business.

The South of Scotland Electricity Board has made a first-time entry into the international market with a call for 2.3 million tons of coal needed over a 12-month period beginning in March.But U.S. companies aren't excited about the prospect of the new business

because they believe the utility is likely to end up buying all or most of the coal it needs domestically.

They say the foray into the international market will provide the buyer with competitive import prices that it will use to get a better deal from British Coal, Britain's national coal company.

One U.S. producer said local miners had threatened to take court action if the electricity board attempts to import coal. The threat, however, has not prompted a recall of the tender, the producer said with a note of encouragement.

He added, though, that he expects South of Scotland to buy, at most, about 150,000 to 200,000 tons of coal from foreign suppliers.

The producer said he learned from talking with ship brokers that most of the interest in the tender is coming from China, Colombia and the United States.

Another trader suggested that U.K. coal consumers will not be able to continue the practice of using foreign offers as leverage against domestic prices unless at some point they do buy the foreign coal.

DOE Initiatives

To Boost Exports

The U.S. Energy Department has undertaken three major initiatives to help boost coalexports, J. Allen Wampler, assistant secretary for fossil energy, said at a recent coal trade conference.

Mr. Wampler said a study is being made of the overseas market for small coal combustors capable of generating less than 50 million British thermal units an hour.

The market is largely overlooked by U.S. equipment suppliers and traders, but it is one that offers some distinct advantages, he explained.

The key point is that equipment being used in Denmark, Great Britain, Sweden and some other countries is vintage 1940 and wouldn't stand up against the efficiency and cleanliness of modern fluidized bed boilers, Mr. Wampler noted.

He disclosed that DOE would make its complete findings known to U.S. industry this fall.

Mr. Wampler also said DOE has screened 75 countries receiving assistance

from the Agency for International Development to identify the most promising markets for linking sales of U.S. coal combustion equipment and long-term coal supply contracts.

A third project involves the study of the large industrial and utility boiler market in Europe.