Finance/Companies news briefs, Dec. 20

Magellan Petroleum Corp. directors have approved the purchase of 1 million shares of its stock on the NASDAQ market. It said timing of the purchase would be determined by market conditions. Magellan, which mostly explores in Australia, has $15 million in liquid assets and no long term debt.

Reliant Services LLC, jointly and equally owned by subsidiaries of Vectren Corp., of Evansville, Ind., and Cinergy Corp. of Cincinnati, has completed its common stock purchase of Indianapolis-based Miller Pipeline Corp. from NiSource Inc. for $68.3 million.

Petroplus International BV has bought 12.6% of TotalFinaElf's share in the Soci� du Pipeline M�terran�Rh�ne (SPMR) products pipeline system in southeastern France. TotalFinaElf had to sell the interest to get European Commission approval of its merger. The 760 km pipeline system moves 9.5 million tonnes/year of products.

Noble Affiliates Inc., Houston, said its subsidiary EDC Europe Ltd. has completed an asset exchange with Shell UK Ltd. Shell acquired EDC's 12.5% interest in UK North Sea Block 20/4b and a cash payment in exchange for EDC acquiring Shell's 12.885% interest in Block 21/20a, which includes Cook field. The deal is effective Oct. 1, 1999. Cook field was commissioned in April and was producing 12,000 b/d. Reserves are more than 20 million bbl.

Nuevo Energy Co., Houston, has set a $181 million capital budget for 2001, with the potential for another $24 million, depending on drilling success. It will spend $141 million on development projects (mostly in California), $27 million for exploration in California and Africa, and $13 million for other capital projects.

St. Mary Land & Exploration Co., Denver, Colo., plans to spend $155 million in 2001, up 35% from the $115 million budgeted for 2000. Spending plans include $60 million for property acquisitions and $95 million for exploration and production. The latter is up 44% from the $66 million spent in 2000, and will more than double the company's spending in the Gulf of Mexico.

State oil corporation Petroleos de Venezuela SA has earmarked $5.8 billion in investments for 2001. About $4.25 billion will go to exploration and production activities, industry sources said on Monday. According to the sources, PDVSA plans increasing Venezuela�s production capacity to almost 4 million b/d. The corporation also has estimated its gross revenues in 2001 at $25.5 billion.

Trinidad Drilling Ltd., Calgary, has acquired Progressive Well Servicing Co., which operates eight service rigs in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Price was $3.9 million. Trinidad operates a fleet of oil and gas well drilling and service rigs in the two provinces.

Azurix Corp.'s directors have accepted an offer of $8.375/share by Enron Corp., Houston. Enron also announced that it has settled in principle certain shareholder litigation pending in Delaware and Texas that had challenged the Enron proposal as unfair. The settlement is contingent upon execution of a definitive settlement agreement and other regulatory approval.

Viking Energy Royalty Trust, Calgary, will buy oil interests in the Belshill area of Alberta for $81 million (Can.), which will double its working interests in the area. Viking has been a partner in the properties and will now become operator. It will funds the purchase with $41 million cash and 4.7 million Viking trust units.

Weatherford International Inc. has acquired Oil Country Manufacturing Inc. of Ventura, Calif. Oil Country supplies equipment to the well servicing and workover segments of the oilfield services industry. OCM will continue to operate under its own name and will be part of Weatherford's Drilling & Intervention Services Division. Weatherford intends to incorporate and perform all manufacturing of its power equipment and rig systems components at OCM's facility in Ventura.

The US Department of Justice has informed Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. and R&B Falcon that it completed the antitrust review of their proposed merger and intends to take no action. The two rig companies reported regulatory filings in the UK and Brazil remain under review.

Sunoco Inc., Philadelphia, planed to complete its purchase of Aristech Chemical Corp., Pittsburgh, Pa., after the Federal Trade Commission did not object to the deal. Aristech has chemical plants at Neal, W.Va., Haverhill, Ohio, Neville Island, Pa., Pasadena, Tex., and LaPorte, Tex., plus a research center in Pittsburgh. Sunoco will acquire the stock of Aristech from Mitsubishi Corp. for $695 million, including approximately $115 million for working capital.

Remington Oil and Gas Corp., Dallas, has set a $66.4 million capital budget for 2001. Included is $39 million for 30 wells, mostly offshore. About $13 million is planned for development of discoveries at East Cameron 305, 345, and 360 and Eugene Island 397/Green Canyon 48 blocks in the Gulf of Mexico.

A federal court in Phoenix, Ariz., has dismissed claims against ONEOK Inc., Tulsa, Okla., and Southwest Gas Corp. brought by Southern Union Co. The claims, brought under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, originated in litigation Southern Union filed in its unsuccessful efforts to acquire Southwest Gas (OGJ, Jan. 31, 2000, p. 38). ONEOK had also attempted to acquire Southwest Gas but abandoned its efforts last January because of the litigation.

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