Finance/Companies news briefs, May 8

May 8, 2000
Dominion Exploration & Production Inc. ... Mariner Energy Inc. � Le Norman Partners LLC ... Bargo Energy Co. ... Roc Oil Ltd. � Star Energy Ltd. � Trikem � BASF AG

Dominion Exploration & Production Inc. (formerly CNG Producing Co.) agreed to buy a 30% working interest in the Devils Tower discovery in the Gulf of Mexico from Mariner Energy Inc. for an undisclosed amount. The transaction brings Dominion Exploration's holding in Mississippi Canyon Block 773 to 60% from 30% and reduces Mariner's interest to 20% from 50%. Other partners in Devils Tower are Pioneer Natural Resources Co., 15.83375%, and Westport Oil & Gas Co., 4.16625%. The sale was effective May 3. An appraisal well is planned for this quarter, and another in the fourth quarter. After drilling the first appraisal well, Dominion will become operator of the block.

Le Norman Partners LLC agreed to buy Houston-based Bargo Energy Co.'s Ardmore basin producing oil and gas properties in Oklahoma for $31.9 million. The effective date of the sale is May 1; closing is expected by the end of May. Bargo said it will use proceeds to pay down debt.

Roc Oil Ltd., Sydney, said it has made $18 million (Aus.) profit on the sale of its UK petroleum assets for $57 million (Aus.) to Star Energy Ltd. of the UK. The purchase price could rise by another $13.5 million (Aus.) over the next 2 years if crude oil prices stay above $28.50 (US)/bbl and the assets being sold meet specific oil production targets. The assets include the Welton oil field and several smaller nearby oil fields, including Nettleham, Cold Hanworth, and Scampton North, as well as the Eskdale gas field.

Brazil's petrochemical industry has increased profits this year on the back of a recovery in commodity prices, said Pedro Batita, analyst with Banco Pactual, a Brazilian bank. Petrochemical and distribution company Trikem, a subsidiary of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht Ltda., posted net income of $41.9 million in first quarter 2000, compared with $26.4 million during the same period last year. Germany's BASF AG registered profits of $258 million for its Brazilian operations in the first quarter, a 19% jump compared with first quarter 1999.