Finance/Companies news briefs, Aug. 9

Schlumberger Test & Transactions � Data Marine Systems � PTT Exploration & Production � Unocal � Mitsui Oil Exploration � PetroVietnam � Terra Industries � Mississippi Chemical � WellBid � eNersection � Wellogix


Schlumberger Test & Transactions, a unit of Schlumberger Ltd., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Scotland's Data Marine Systems Ltd., which provides telecommunications services for transmitting data from remote locations. Details of the transaction were not disclosed. "Our customers are accelerating their demand for high-volume, secure data transfers from frontier locations," said Xavier Flinois, president of Schlumberger Network Solutions. "...This acquisition...will enhance our global delivery infrastructure for secure connectivity." Data Marine Systems owns and manages a global VSAT-based network and an "extranet" that provide secure and remote network access to more than 100 oil and gas firms.

PTT Exploration & Production PLC (PTTEP) has acquired a farmout in three exploration blocks off Viet Nam from Unocal Corp. and Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. (MOECO). In return for paying $7.5 million for exploration costs incurred to date, PTTEP will gain a 10% interest in the gas-rich blocks, eight percentage points of which will come from Unocal and two from MOECO. Included in the deal are a 10% stake in Block 52/97, reducing Unocal's working interest to 62% and MOECO's to 28%; and 10% in Blocks B and 48/95, reducing Unocal's working interest to 37% and MOECO's to 23%. Repsol-YPF SA holds a 30% stake in Blocks B and 48/95. PetroVietnam has the option to take a 15% stake in those blocks and 30% in 52/97 upon declaration of commerciality.

Terra Industries Inc., Sioux City, Iowa, this week agreed to settle litigation against Mississippi Chemical Corp., Yazoo City, Miss., concerning the December 1994 explosion of Terra's Port Neal, Iowa, fertilizer plant, said Mississippi Chemical. Mississippi Chemical said Terra and its property insurance carriers would dismiss their suit to recover the costs of damage to the plant. Terra also will pay $18 million to Mississippi Chemical to settle a defamation suit filed by Mississippi Chemical against Terra. Terra had claimed in its suit that a nitric acid sparger, used inside a neutralizer in the process for making nitrogen fertilizer, was defectively designed by Mississippi Chemical and was the cause of the explosion at the plant. A court-appointed expert metallurgist, however, concluded that the piece of equipment in question wasn't the cause of the explosion, said Mississippi Chemical. Four Terra employees were killed and 18 others injured in the blast.

WellBid Inc. and eNersection have agreed to merge and thereby join efforts in providing online software to the upstream energy sector. The combination will create a single company that provides tools for expediting intercompany exchange of enterprise data; streamlining workflow and collaboration; and transacting complex, engineered services via the internet. The combined company will be known as Wellogix Inc. and based in Houston.

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