BENTON TO INCREASE RUSSIAN UPSTREAM PROGRAM

Benton Oil & Gas Co. is moving to expand its exploration/development program in the Russian republic. The Oxnard, Calif., company last week disclosed it has signed a letter of intent with Purneftegasegeologia Industrial Association (PIA) for joint venture exploration in another area of western Siberia. Selection of geological sites, as well as initial exploration, will begin this year. No further details were disclosed. The letter of intent involves a program separate from Benton's

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