Finance/Companies news briefs, June 15

Gas Technology Institute � Kvaerner Construction � Whessoe International � Ranger Oil � Petrobank Energy & Resources � Burlington Resources � PanCanadian Petroleum � Samson Canada � TotalFinaElf ... Mobil Oil Australia ... Institut Fran�s du P�ole ... Yukos ... Maxx Petroleum ... Samson Investment ... Torch Exploration Co. ... Bellwether Exploration Co.


The entity formed from the merger of the Gas Research Institute and the Institute of Gas Technology early this year has finally announced its new name. The research group will be known as Gas Technology Institute. GTI's two lines of business will be research, technical, and program management services, including educational courses; and a technology investment business managed by a wholly owned subsidiary. As previously announced, GTI will be located in existing IGT facilities in Des Plaines, Ill.

Kvaerner Group subsidiary Kvaerner Construction, Oslo, on May 29 said it would acquire Whessoe International Ltd., the Darlington, UK-based LNG technology subsidiary of the German group Babcock Borsig AG. The move may increase further Kvaerner's 10% share of the $1 billion/year LNG construction market. Kvaerner and Whessoe are working together on a major LNG project in Dabhol, India. Both companies will design and build an LNG terminal and regasification complex for a new power station on India's West Coast for �300 million. Kvaerner is the main turnkey contractor, with Whessoe handling design, engineering, and procurement of tanks. The client is a subsidiary of Enron Corp.

Shares of Calgary-based Ranger Oil Ltd. increased to a 12-month high June 8 on unconfirmed rumors of higher bids for the company, which has been on the market since Apr. 5. Shares closed at $8.15 (Can.) on the Toronto Stock Exchange in heavy trading. Petrobank Energy & Resources Ltd., which has made a $1.6 billion (Can.) hostile bid, is expected to improve that offer. Its current offer is $7.50 (Can.)/share or three Petrobank shares for each Ranger share. Ranger was expecting to receive new offers. There were unconfirmed reports Burlington Resources Ltd., Houston, would make a bid of about $9.25 (Can.)/share, and PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd., Calgary, would offer $9.00 (Can.)/share.

TotalFinaElf SA plans to set up a single brand name for most of its service stations abroad, dropping the Elf and Fina brands and adopting the Total name. This will take place gradually. In France, both the Elf and Total brands will be maintained. The Elf brand name will be maintained in the former East Germany, where Elf has a 17% share of the market after its acquisition of the Min�l network in 1992. In Belgium, the Fina name will be kept on for the time; it accounts for 16% of the market.

The Victorian Court of Appeal has granted leave for the $100 million (Aus.) class action to proceed against Mobil Oil Australia Ltd. over this year�s aviation gasoline contamination crisis (OGJ, Jan. 24, 2000, p. 25). Judges at the Full Court rejected 3-2 Mobil�s claim that the Supreme Court did not have the constitutional power to hear a class action. The action was launched in January after the Civil Aviation Safety Authority grounded thousands of light aircraft that had used contaminated Mobil aviation gasoline in November and December 1999.

Institut Fran�s du P�ole has signed a letter of intent with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, chairman of the Russian oil company Yukos, under which it will provide its expertise and experience in the training of oil and gas professionals and identify Yukos's priorities and specific needs in this area. The IFP School, which provides advanced and specialized training in all areas of oil and gas, as well as automobiles, is also involved in a Franco-Russian program, organized jointly with Gubkin Oil & Gas University of Moscow. Over 30 students, 10 of which are Russian, are enrolled in this program, which covers economic and technological issues of the oil industry. It is conducted entirely in English

Maxx Petroleum Ltd., Calgary, reported it has retained Waterous & Co. and Charlton Capital Corp., both of Calgary, as financial advisors to the special committee of independent directors to assist in identifying and assessing alternatives to maximize value for Maxx's shareholders. Maxx forecasts 2000 cash flow from operations to be $35 million (Can.) based on crude prices of $25 (US)/bbl. Second quarter production to date is 8,500 boe/d, while the forecast yearend rate is 10,000 boe/d.

Samson Investment Co., Tulsa, has completed of its acquisition of natural gas properties in East Texas from Torch Exploration Co. and Bellwether Exploration Co. for $10.5 million. The properties have production of 7 MMcfd of gas and contain numerous drilling locations. Samson says it has completed four separate acquisitions in East Texas over the last 6 months. Robert Bilger, Samson's CFO, credits the company's success in East Texas to its large operating position, willingness to pay for quality drilling opportunities, and ability to close quickly. Samson has completed $250 million worth of acquisitions in the US and Canada so far this year.

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