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Briefs -- Schlumberger/Cameron, Peregrine Midstream, Texas Fraud Case

Schlumberger Ltd. and Cameron International Corp. expect to complete their merger on Friday (April 1), after the Chinese Ministry of Commerce cleared their proposed tie-up. It was the last major hurdle remaining. The $14.8 billion merger would bring together complementary technology portfolios that the partners have said would create the industry's first "complete" drilling and production system (see Daily GPI, Aug. 25, 2015).

Peregrine Midstream Partners LLC and affiliates Peregrine Rocky Mountains LLC, Ryckman Creek Resources Holding Co. LLC and Ryckman Creek Resources LLC have received final bankruptcy court approval on a $35 million debtor-in-possession loan to provide liquidity and working capital to the business while it continues to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (see Daily GPIFeb. 5). The companies also said they entered a plan support agreement with certain holders of secured loans to restructure balance sheets and eliminate more than $160 million from the balance sheet. "This significant milestone in our reorganization provides a clear path for us to emerge from Chapter 11 as quickly as possible," said CEO Rob Foss. The companies have a 53 Bcf gas storage facility that serves the Opal Hub in Wyoming. It was closed following a fire in 2013 but recently reopened (see Daily GPI, Jan. 8).

Promoters of a bogus oil/natural gas investment scheme were found liable on all counts by a U.S. District Court in Texas. Judge Ed Kinkeade granted summary judgment for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on all claims against promoters Leon Ali Parvizian and his two Dallas-based companies, Arcturus Corp. and Aschere Energy LLC. The court also found for the SEC on its claims against Alfredo Gonzalez and AMG Energy LLC, also of Dallas, and Florida-based Robert Balunas and R. Thomas & Co. LLC, who sold the investments, according to the SEC. The agency alleged in charges filed in December 2013 that the defendants raised nearly $22 million from at least 380 investors nationwide through illegal securities sales. In its 50-page summary judgment order, the court found that Parvizian and his companies committed securities fraud by offering and selling interests in a drilling project in which they had no rights to participate or share profits. The court also found that all defendants had illegally offered and sold unregistered securities and that Parvizian, Gonzalez, AMG Energy, Balunas, and R. Thomas & Co. acted as unregistered broker-dealers. The court rejected defense arguments that the investments were exempt from the federal securities laws because they were structured as "joint ventures." The court instead found that the investors had little real power and were inexperienced in the oil and gas industry, leaving them dependent on Parvizian and his companies to control the ventures. This dependency made the joint venture interests "investment contracts," which are subject to securities laws.

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