Finance/Companies news briefs, Oct. 26

Repsol-YPF � German Oil and Gas Egypt � Talisman Energy � Petro-Canada � Nova Chemical � Suncor Energy � Boots & Coots International Well Control � Prudential Insurance � New York Mercantile Exchange � Aspen Group Resources � PGGB Oil & Gas Partnership � Jascan Resources � Breakwater Resources � Cabre Exploration

Spain's Repsol-YPF SA plans to sell its 50% interests in the Gulf of Suez East and West Concessions in Egypt to German Oil & Gas Egypt, Repsol said Wednesday. The east concession contains the Ras Budran field, which has been producing since 1983, while the western concession includes the Ras Fanar and the Zeit Bay fields. Those two fields have been on production since 1984 and 1983. GEOGE, a joint venture of RWE-DEA AG and Veba Oil & Gas GMBH, is operator of the assets. Repsol-YPF is divesting assets to focus on its Western Desert and Nile Delta oil and natural gas assets in Egypt. The acquisition will have taken effect Jan. 1, 2000, if Egyptian authorities approve the deal.

Talisman Energy Inc., Calgary, says it has spent $152.8 million (Can.) to buy back more than 3 million of its own shares this year in an effort to increase its share value. The shares were bought between February and Oct. 20. The buy-back program is continuing. CEO Jim Buckee said strong commodity prices have allowed the company to increase capital spending, pay down debt, and repurchase shares. Shares in Talisman, which were adversely affected by the company�s involvement in a controversial oil production program in Sudan, have increased 38% in value this year.

Petro-Canada Ltd., Calgary, reported third quarter profits more than doubled over the same period in 1999 to $232 million (Can.) from $93 million. The company said profits reached $185 million from $83 million while production fell 3% in the quarter to an average 203,000 boe/d. Profit from refining and retail operations rose 85% to $74 million compared to the same period in 1999. Petro-Canada said it will seek approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange to buy back about 10% of its shares. The purchase of 22 million shares would cost about $713 million based on a recent closing price of $32.40 per share.

Nova Chemical Corp., Calgary, reports a third quarter increase in profits of almost 75% over the same period last year to $92 million US. Revenues increased 35% to $988 million, compared with $734 million for the same period in 1999. The company said it achieved the strong results despite rising energy costs for feedstock and relatively soft demand. Nova said a natural gas hedging program and a price advantage for the feedstock it buys in Alberta helped to increase earnings. There were strong improvements in its ethylene and polyethylene units, where operating earnings rose 47% to $84 million.

Suncor Energy Inc., Calgary, reported reduced third quarter earnings of $50 million (Can.) compared to $70 million in the same period a year ago because of one-time expenses. The company earned $111 million in operating income in the third quarter but took one-time writedowns of $61 million. One-time costs included a $10 million restructuring charge and a $6 million charge on the start-up of its Project Millennium oilsands expansion program. The project will more than double production at the company�s oilsands plant in northern Alberta to 225,000 b/d in 2002. The company said oil production increased 13% in the third quarter to 114,200 b/d.

Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc. said it has reached agreement in principle with Prudential Insurance Co. of America, the company's subordinated debt lender, in the form of a letter of intent defining the restructuring of Boots & Coots' debt with Prudential. Boots & Coots says it has been in default under its subordinated note agreement since the second quarter of 1999.

The New York Mercantile Exchange said Tuesday that the US Internal Revenue Service has given it a favorable private letter ruling that its proposal to convert to a for-profit organization from a not-for-profit membership structure would incur no tax consequences. The proposal was announced earlier this year (OGJ Online, May 12, 2000). The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and a 97.5% majority of the exchange members previously approved the plan.

Aspen Group Resources Corp., Oklahoma City, Okla., has acquired interests in 158 producing oil and gas properties from PGGB Oil & Gas Partnership in an all-cash transaction effective Aug. 1, 2000, said Aspen Group. Aspen acquired an interest in 134 wells that it currently owns working interests in and in 24 in which it previously had no interest. Terms were not disclosed. The PGGB holdings included interests in three parishes in Louisiana, one county in Montana, twelve counties in Oklahoma, three counties in Texas, and one county in Wyoming. The predominant position is in the Anadarko basin in Oklahoma. Aspen estimates that 90% of the PGGB reserves are natural gas.

Jascan Resources Inc.'s shareholders have approved a bid by Breakwater Resources Ltd. to acquire Jascan for shares and cash. Jascan will apply to the Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) for a final order approving the Plan of Arrangement on or about Oct. 30.

Cabre Exploration Inc., Calgary, says its is selling 25% of its oil and natural gas production capacity to an unnamed buyer for $125 million (Can.). The company said the sale of core shallow gas properties in northeastern Alberta also includes the assumption of transportation commitments and royalty interest in 22,400 gross acres of oil sands leases within the core area. Cabre said the sale also represents the end of an auction process for the company in which it has been reviewing a number of merger and acquisition proposals. None was accepted.

More in Production Operations