Pennaco steps up coalbed methane development

This year, Pennaco Energy Inc. expects to increase its already aggressive drilling program in the Powder River basin coalbed methane play, which some analysts describe as the hottest onshore gas play in the US.The company is looking at a preliminary budget of $42 million for 2000, about the same level as in 1999. But much of last year's spending-$22 million-was for lease acquisitions. That's being chopped to $10 million or less this year, with the bulk of the budget earmarked for drilling.Already the most active operator in the Powder River basin of northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana, Pennaco will participate in drilling as many as 550 wells this year, officials say. Th...

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