Drilling/Production news briefs, Oct. 23

Pioneer Natural Resources Co., Irving, Tex., agreed to buy half of Mariner Energy Inc.'s stake in Aconcagua field on Mississippi Canyon 305 in the Gulf of Mexico and the Canyon Express Pipeline project for $25.5 million. The purchase brings Pioneer's holding in Aconcagua to $37.5% from 25% and its holding in the Canyon Express project to 23.5%.

Howell Corp., Houston,is buying Conoco Inc.'s 27% interest in Elk Basin field, in Park County, Wyo., and Carbon County, Mont., for $26 million. Closing is due in mid-November. Howell is operator and has a 27% working interest.

Vaalco Energy Inc., Houston,said Gabon has given a Vaalco subsidiary a 5-year extension to its production sharing contract for the Etame Block. The 3,000 sq km block holds Etame field, which Vaalco will bring on flow in late 2002, and the North and South Tchibala discoveries, which it is considering for development.

Schlumberger Oilfield Services, a unit of Schlumberger Ltd., New York, opened a Houston virtual reality center to help its clients make productivity decisions. Schlumberger has three other virtual reality centers.

A Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Ranger Oil Ltd. partnership will help Nigerian firm Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Co. develop its Aje oil field concession. Aje, on Lease 113 in the Benin basin, has two wells.

Westlinks Resources Ltd., Calgary, drilled three wells of a possible five in the Superb area of Saskatchewan. The first well has been cased and is being production tested. The second and third wells are being completed and cased.

Abu Dhabi Co. for Onshore Oil Operations, a subsidiary of the national oil company of the United Arab Emirates, awarded Norwegian companies SAAS System AS and Aker Technology AS a contract for a system to stop flaring at an oil processing plant in Abu Dhabi.

Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria Ltd. awarded French company Bouygues Offshore SA a $5 million contract for the maintenance of surface facilities at Odidi in the Western Niger Delta area of Nigeria.

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