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The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board plans to release a draft strategic environmental assessment (SEA) later this month on the offshore Misaine Bank area, a region off Cape Breton's East Coast that up to now remains mostly unexplored for oil and gas. In the early 1970s, four exploration wells were drilled within the area and three also were drilled nearby. No hydrocarbon shows were encountered, but the board noted that since that time, major technological advances have improved exploration and production, and they may improve the likelihood of finding reserves in the area. Following public comment on the 32-page draft SEA, which is expected to last about a month, the board will prepare an official assessment that may lead to possible exploration opportunities in the area. The entire draft SEA is available at www.cnsopb.ns.ca.

Energy Resource Technology Inc. (ERT), a subsidiary of Houston-based Cal Dive International Inc., has acquired "essentially all" of Murphy Oil Corp.'s Gulf of Mexico Shelf properties for $200 million. The properties, acquired from subsidiary Murphy Exploration & Production Co., include eight operated and 11 nonoperated fields, with most of the value in the operated fields, Cal Dive said in a statement. Current net production is 20 MMcfe/d, and ERT estimates proved reserves to be approximately 75 Bcfe. ERT expects to significantly improve production rates with capital investments to exploit proved undeveloped and behind-pipe reserves, with most of the investment over the next two years, Cal Dive said. The package has "synergies with existing ERT properties allowing ERT the opportunity to combine many of the operations thereby reducing future operating expenses," it added.

Colorado Interstate Gas (CIG) has begun construction of its Raton Basin expansion project, which is slated to be in service by October. The $61 million expansion will add 104,600 Dth/d of transmission capacity to the section of CIG's existing pipeline system from south central Colorado to the panhandle of Oklahoma. The El Paso Corp. subsidiary said that construction involves installing 102 miles of 16-, 20-, and 24-inch diameter pipeline looping; 1,770 horsepower of additional compression; and new metering facilities. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized construction in May. Completion of the Raton Basin 2005 expansion will increase CIG's capacity ito more than 380,000 Dth/d.

El Paso Corp. restated its 2003 and 2004 financial results last week, resulting in a $46 million reduction in its previously reported net losses. The company also said that it made some changes to enhance the effectiveness of its internal controls over its financial reporting process. The company said the financial restatements were associated with currency translation adjustments. The impact of the restatements was a $45 million reduction of the company's net loss in 2003 and a $1 million reduction in 2004. The company said it determined that its currency translation adjustment (CTA) balances contained amounts related to businesses and investments that had been previously sold or abandoned. The CTA balances related to these entities should have been reclassified to earnings upon the sale or abandonment of these entities. El Paso also identified an issue related to the manner in which it initially recorded U.S. deferred income taxes related to foreign entities that had CTA balances. As restated, El Paso reported that it had a net loss of $947 million last year and a net loss of $195 million in 2003. The loss from continuing operations was increased to $833 million last year from the previously reported $802 million, and the loss from continuing operations in 2003 was changed to $595 million from $605 million. The net loss per share remained the same for 2004 but was reduced in 2003 to $3.15.

FERC last Wednesday approved a 75 MMcf/d expansion of Alliance Pipeline LP's border-crossing facilities in North Dakota at the United States-Canadian border [CP07-169].

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