Finance/Companies news briefs, May 11

Petroleo Brasileiro SA ... Clark Refining Holdings Inc. ... Aries Resources LLC


Petroleo Brasileiro SA will maintain its monopoly over imports of oil and oil products into Brazil until Dec. 31, 2001, due to a governmental decision. Brazil postponed for 16 months the opening of the country's oil market; authorities will send a bill to congress to approve the plan. The government had planned to open the market by Aug. 7, 2000, but Energy Minister Rodolpho Tourinho and Finance Minister Pedro Malan say the delay is necessary in light of postponements suffered by the government's fiscal reform plan. Specifically, the government will open the market only after it has a replacement scheme for its PPE (specific price share) tax, which this year should bring $1.93 billion in income for the government.

Clark Refining Holdings Inc. said its name has changed to Premcor Inc. Premcor sold the Clark retail operations and brand name in July 1999 in order to focus on the refining business. Subsidiary Clark USA Inc. is now Premcor USA Inc., and Clark Refining and Marketing Inc. is now Premcor Refining Group Inc. Premcor's principal shareholders are affiliates of the Blackstone Group (80%) and Occidental Petroleum (19%).

Aries Resources LLC said it sold its nonoperating interests in more than 260 wells to two separate unnamed parties for a total of $45 million. The properties are located in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Ohio. Separately, Aries acquired interests in 15 fields for about $28.9 million. The company said the transaction gave it 13.8 MMboe of reserves in the Permian basin, East Texas, and the Mid-Continent area.

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