Finance/Companies news briefs, May 31

NAL Oil & Gas Trust ... Draig Energy ... NYMEX ... SmartEnergy.com .... Essential.com


NAL Oil & Gas Trust, Calgary, will make a $51.8 million (Can.) offer for all outstanding shares of Calgary junior Draig Energy Ltd. The offer includes assumption of $26.5 million in debt, net of working capital. The bid will be 0.2375 of an NAL Trust unit for each Draig share. The boards of both companies have approved the offer, and Draig officers and directors have agreed to tender about 50% of Draig shares.

The New York Mercantile Exchange raised margins on its Henry Hub natural gas futures contract as of the close of business Tuesday to $3,500 from $2,500 for clearing members, to $3,850 from $2,750 for members, and to $4,725 from $3,375 for customers. In early trading Tuesday, the June contract rose to $4.50/MMbtu after closing at $4.41 Friday, surpassing the previous high of $4 set in January 1997. The rise in gas prices is being fueled by increased demand and tight supplies, experts say.

SmartEnergy.com, Woburn, Mass., has reached an agreement with Essential.com, Burlington, Mass., to offer Essential.com's customers electricity services in New York City and the Westchester County, NY, area. The two companies also said they are offering a fixed-rate plan that will allow customers to lock in a price before projected electricity rate increases take place this summer. There is no monthly service fee for the fixed-rate plan, and new customers will receive 1 month of free electricity, limited to $50. The SmartEnergy.com and Essential.com relationship coincides with the New York State Public Service Commission's recent announcement to greatly expand its retail choice program that allows New York customers to shop for power.

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