Finance/Companies news briefs, Oct. 18

ExxonMobil � Ultra Petroleum � Pendaries Petroleum � The Chancellor Group � John Wood Group � Vepica � Precision Drilling � CenAlta Energy Services � ONEOK Resources � Magnum Hunter Resources � Trust Company of the West � Chieftain International � Gulfstream Resources Canada � Unocal Makassar � Unocal Rapak � Mobil Makassar � Rapak � JP Kenny � Triune � JP Kenny Triune Engineering � Piedmont Natural Gas � Atmos Energy � PanCanadian Petroleum

The US Supreme Court has asked the US Justice Department for the USW government's position on an appeal by ExxonMobil Corp. and four other refiners challenging a Unocal Corp. patent on reformulated gasoline, said ExxonMobil Monday. Other refiners claim the patent is too broad and will cost the industry millions (OGJ Online, Sept. 13, 2000). Exxon Mobil said the Justice brief is likely to be filed later this year and the court will decide after that whether to hear the case.

Ultra Petroleum Corp., Houston, has agreed to acquire Pendaries Petroleum Ltd., Houston, in a share swap that will leave Pendaries shareholders owning 21% of Ultra. The offer calls for Ultra to issue 1.58 shares of its common stock for each share of Pendaries common. If the deal is completed, Pendaries will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ultra. Also, Ultra has provided a $5 million line of credit to Pendaries' subsidiary, Sino-American Energy Corp. Ultra's exploration and production focus is on the Green River basin area of Wyoming. Pendaries' E&P focus is on China.

The Chancellor Group Inc. said Tuesday it is arranging $27 million in financing from interests associated with the company's board. Completion of the financing agreement will trigger the company's options to acquire producing properties with exploration potential in Carter County, Okla., Greenwood County, Kan., and Wyoming's Powder River basin. The funds will also enable the company to begin developing oil and gas properties in Pecos County, Tex., and exercise options it was negotiating on exploration licenses in Kazakhstan.

John Wood Group PLC said Oct. 16 it will buy a 19.9% holding in Venezolana de Proyectos Integrados CA (Vepica), a Venezuelan oil and gas engineering, operations and maintenance and construction business. The two companies will jointly bid for work in Venezuela. Wood Group and Vepica have worked together the past 4 years in a consortium serving Petroleos de Venezuela SA's water injection needs on Lake Maracaibo.

Precision Drilling Corp. has acquired 93% of CenAlta Energy Services Inc. and will take steps to acquire the rest, as required by Canadian regulations. The $220 million (Can.) acquisition was announced last month (OGJ Online, Sept. 13, 2000).

ONEOK Resources Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of ONEOK Inc., has increased its ownership in Magnum Hunter Resources Inc. from 32% to 38% from 32%, paying the company $20.6 million. Trust Company of the West, as investment manager for General Mills Inc. also bought Magnum Hunter shares totaling $2.4 million. Magnum Hunter said it will use the funds to reduce debt.

Chieftain International Inc., Edmonton, said Monday is buying an option to acquire 50% of Gulfstream Resources Canada Ltd.'s oil and gas interests in Qatar. The option can be exercised during the next 3 months, and may be extended. It is subject to government and partner approvals. Gulfstream's interests in Qatar include a 42.5% interest in a 1976 exploration and production sharing agreement which includes the Al Rayyan oil development and a 27.5% interest in the 1997 Block 11 exploration and production sharing agreement.

Affiliates of Unocal Corp., Unocal Makassar Ltd. and Unocal Rapak Ltd., have agreed to buy interests in production sharing contracts for blocks off East Kalimantan, Indonesia, from affiliates of ExxonMobil Corp., Mobil Makassar Inc. and Mobil Rapak Inc. The purchase is subject to approval by the government of Indonesia and Pertamina.

Piedmont Natural Gas Co. has agreed to buy Atmos Energy Corp.'s gas distribution system in Gaffney, SC, for $5.8 million. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close by the end of the year.

PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd., Calgary, reports a 194% increase in third quarter profits over the same period in 1999 to $297 million (Can.), as well as a doubling of cash flow to $654 million. The company has allocated $2.2 billion for capital spending this year. President and CEO David Tuer said PanCanadian is benefiting from higher production and capital spending at a time when commodity prices for oil and gas are high.

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