Finance/Companies news briefs, June 21

Seacor Smit � Chiles Offshore � Tartan Energy � Albatross Oil & Gas � McDermott International � Babcock & Wilcox International Investments � Ansaldo Volund Group .... Duke Energy Field Services � TransCanada Midstream ... PEPEX ... Unocal ... Northrock Resources ... Petro-Canada ... Ventus Energy Ltd. ... Edge Energy Inc.


Seacor Smit Inc. said Chiles Offshore LLC, of which it owns 55%, has filed plans for an initial public offering of its common stock. Houston-based Chiles Offshore owns and operates three jack up rigs, all of which are under contract. On Apr. 10, Chiles announced it let contract to Keppel Fels shipyard in Singapore to build a $110 million cantilevered jack up. Chiles plans to use funds from the IPO to retire indebtedness and to fund further growth and working capital.

Tartan Energy Inc., Calgary, signed a letter of intent to acquire Albatross Oil & Gas Co. Inc. via a share exchange. Tartan will issue 1.65 Tartan shares for each Albatross share. The deal is contingent on the exchange of two thirds of Albatross's shares.

McDermott International Inc. subsidiary Babcock & Wilcox International Investments Co. Inc. has purchased several business unit from Ansaldo Volund Group, a group of companies owned by Finmeccanica SPA of Italy. Babcock & Wilcox agreed to buy Ansaldo Volund's waste-to-energy, biomass, gasification, and stoker-fired boiler businesses and projects, as well as the Esbjerg engineering and manufacturing facility. Terms were not disclosed.

Duke Energy Field Services, LLC, through its subsidiary Duke Energy Midstream Services Canada Ltd., has acquired the Gordondale gas processing plant and gathering system from TransCanada Midstream for an undisclosed price. The transaction closed late in May, with DEFS assuming ownership effective May 1, 2000. The Gordondale assets in northwestern Alberta include an 80 MMcfd sour gas plant, 115 miles of gas gathering lines, and two field compressors. The plant is licensed to process up to 100 MMcfd and is readily expandable, says Duke.

The Petroleum Electronic Pricing Exchange (PEPEX) claims to have conducted the world's first internet sale of physical petroleum product through a tender system. Colombian state firm Empresa Colombiana de Petroleos (ECOPETROL) sold 320,000 bbl of No. 6 fuel oil for delivery from the Port of Mamonal, Colombia. Buyers from around the world participated in the tender through a private, sealed-envelope bidding process over PEPEX's internet-based system. The tender was posted June 9 and closed June 16. The sale was then completed within 2 hours of the tender closing�a process that typically takes 2 days, according to PEPEX. ECOPETROL chose not to disclose the price or buyer. The company will post five similar tenders during the next few weeks, all of which will be free of charge to all participants.

Unocal Corp. says all of the conditions to the offer by its Unocal Canada Management Ltd. subsidiary to acquire all of the shares of Northrock Resources Ltd. that Unocal does not already own have been satisfied or waived by Unocal, and that Unocal has acquired 21.1 million Northrock shares. The shares represent about 92% of the Northrock shares that were subject to the offer and bring Unocal's ownership in Northrock to about 96%. Unocal has extended the offer to 9:00 p.m. (Calgary time) on June 30, pending confirmation of guaranteed deliveries made before the extension. When confirmations of those deliveries are provided, Unocal intends to acquire all of the remaining shares at the same price as those already tendered. On completion of that process, Northrock's shares will be delisted from The Toronto Stock Exchange.

Petro-Canada Ltd. says it would consider buying Ottawa�s 18.2% interest in the company if the shares come on the market. CEO Ron Brenneman said the company is looking at a number of investment opportunities. Value of the federal interest in Petro-Canada is about $1.3 billion (Can.) at current market prices of $27.25/bbl. Ottawa recently moved to introduce legislation to ease ownership restrictions on the former state oil company and make stock more available to foreign investors. This is seen by some analysts as a prelude to a stock sale. Brenneman said buying its own stock, if it comes on the market, would be one of several investment prospects.

Talisman Energy Inc., Calgary, says it is considering offers for its controversial 25% interest in the Greater Nile Oil Project in Sudan but has no immediate plans to sell. President and CEO Jim Buckee said the company has been contacted by a number of possible buyers. The project has brought criticism from human rights groups and caused some large institutional shareholders to divest Talisman shares. The critics charge oil revenues from the project for the Khartoum regime help fund a long-running civil war in the country. The company says its participation is benefiting the Sudanese and developing infrastructure in the country. Buckee said Talisman won�t rush into a sale, particularly with results expected later this month from a promising exploration test in Sudan. He said Talisman�s share of production from the project will increase to 55,000 b/d of crude in 2001.

Ventus Energy Ltd. and Edge Energy Inc., both of Calgary, have announced plans to merge. Edge shareholders are being offered 0.375 Ventus share for each Edge share. Former Edge shareholders will own 41% of the merged company. The merged company would have production of 12,100 boe/d and a market capitalization of about $250 million (Can.). The firm would reduce its oil weighting to 30% of production from 40% and sell noncore production of 1,000-2,000 boe/d.

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