Finance/Companies news briefs, Dec. 26

Patterson-UTI Energy Inc., the company formed by the merger of Snyder, Tex.-based Patterson Energy Inc. and UTI Energy Corp., Houston, acquired 17 land drilling rigs from Cleere Drilling Co. for $13.5 million in cash, 450,000 shares of common stock, and 325,000 warrants convertible into shares at $26.75/share. Patterson-UTI now owns 319 land rigs.

Redwood Energy Ltd., Calgary, agreed to acquire Tinhorn Resources Ltd., Calgary, for 0.9 shares of Redwood for each Tinhorn share. The deal is subject to at least 90% of Tinhorn shares being tendered. Tinhorn's production of about 287 boe/d, mostly from the Rainbow Lake area of northwestern Alberta, will bring Redwood's total production to 550 boe/d.

The proposed import of natural gas from Bangladesh into India kicked up a turf war between the Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL) and Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) over who should lead the consortium involved. The third member is Oil & Natural Gas Corp. GAIL questioned the government�s decision to appoint refining and marketing company IOC as the company that will own, operate and maintain the gas trunk pipeline, suggesting an equal joint venture of the three oil public sector undertakings for gas trading.

Within a day of BG Group PLC announcing the expiry of its deadline for taking the Enron Corp. 30% stake in the Panna-Mukta and Tapti oil and gas fields for $388 million, India�s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. once again staked claim for operatorship of the joint venture offshore fields.

Industrial Data Systems Corp. finalized its merger with Beaumont, Tex.-based Petrocon Engineering, Inc. (OGJ Online, Apr. 5, 2001).

The Australian Institute of Petroleum said an annual survey conducted by Ernst & Young confirmed refiner-marketers in Australia -- BP PLC, Caltex, a unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and a unit of ExxonMobil Corp. -- lost $160 million (Aus.) on those activities in 2000. The marketing portion of the industry made a profit of $26 million, while the refining industry lost $184 million, largely because of low or even negative margins.

The American Society for Testing and Materials changed its name to ASTM International to reflect the global application and use of ASTM standards.

Italian company Saipem SPA formed a joint venture with Brazilian company Construtora Norberto Odebrecht to provide specialized services to the offshore oil and gas industry. The venture intends to focus on turnkey floating production services off Brazil and Angola.

Noble Affiliates Inc., Houston, agreed to repurchase up to $35 million of its common stock from an independent third party.

India�s Oil and Natural Gas Corp. appointed Ernst & Young of the USA to draft model contracts using a post administered prices mechanism scenario, including an international gas supply agreement with Gas Authority of India Ltd.; crude supplies agreements with Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd., and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd.; and a product sales agreement with Indian Petrochemicals Ltd.

Arcis Corp. agreed to acquire Trace Energy Services Ltd., except for its Hertz Drilling division. Arcis is offering 52.3 Arcis shares for each Trace common share and assumption of $12.8 million of Trace's net debt. After completion of the transaction, Trace's majority shareholder, SCF Partners, Houston, will own 52% of the combined entity. Both Arcis and Trace are based in Calgary. The deal is subject to shareholder agreement. Trace has geophysical operations in Australia, the US, the Mackenzie Delta, and the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. Arcis offerS integrated geophysical services, including data library surveys, data acquisition, processing and brokerage.

AO Yukos Oil Co., Russia's second-largest oil producer, will bid for an additional stake in a Siberian oil producer, AO Eastern Oil Co., that it already controls. Yukos already owns 54%. The Russian government will accept bids for its 36.8% stake until Dec. 29; it hopes to raise at least $255 million. AO Eastern Oil has reserves of 3.7 billion bbl. OAO Tyumen Oil Co. may also bid for the stake.

Japanese companies NKK Corp. and Hitachi Zosen Corp. intend to integrate their shipbuilding operations by Oct. 1, 2002. The integrated company, to be called Universal Shipbuilding Corp., will be headquartered in Tokyo. It will be held 50:50 by NKK and Hitachi Zosen.

CMS Energy Corp. unit CMS Marketing, Services, & Trading signed an agreement to become Gas Natural Trading of Spain's exclusive agent to market cargoes of LNG into North America. CMS Energy owns and operates North America's largest LNG import facility, at Lake Charles, La.

TotalFinaElf SA and China Merchants will combine their liquefied petroleum gas activities along the Yangtze River in China, subject to Chinese authority approval.

Tappit Resources Ltd., Regina, Sask., paid $3.2 million to increase its stake in the proposed North Tatagwa Waterflood Unit project in the Tatagwa area of southeast Saskatchewan to 70.28% from 47.25% . The waterflood project will begin injection in June of 2002.

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