Crosstex Energy LP said it is buying 48 amine treating rental plants of Hanover Compression LP for $52 million. "Thirty-two of the treating plants we are buying are in operation adding about 20 new customers, and the other 16 are ready for refurbishment and will be available to meet our customers treating needs," said Crosstex CEO Barry E. Davis. "This purchase complements our coverage of the amine treating rental market, and will allow us to expand our service capabilities to all our treating customers by providing a larger treating plant fleet with more inventory to better target their needs." The transaction is expected to be completed in February. Hanover and Crosstex also entered into a three-year strategic alliance for compression services and equipment.
KeySpan forecasts that its 2006 earnings will increase 4-5% to $2.40-2.50 per share, driven by the strong performance of its gas distribution and electric services businesses. The company reaffirmed its prior forecast for 2005 consolidated earnings of $2.30-2.40 per share, excluding special items. "It is gratifying that KeySpan continues to grow our gas and electric businesses within the dynamic markets of the Northeast United States...," said CEO Robert B. Catell. "Our 2006 guidance reflects projected earnings growth from the ongoing strong performance of our core businesses. We remain committed to maintaining our strong financial condition with low leverage and 'A' quality credit ratings." Despite high gas commodity costs, the company's gas distribution business is expected to add $49 million of gross profit margin in 2005, $2 million above its original goal, as it continues to add gas conversions and new customers across all of its gas distribution territories. The gross profit margin goal for 2006 is $50 million. The low saturation level of approximately 55% within KeySpan's service territories provides the basis for continued organic growth.
Kerr-McGee Corp. has approved a $1 billion stock repurchase program, with plans to buy 10 million shares in the open market, which would reduce the total number of common shares outstanding 9% to 106 million. In addition, the board of directors authorized the redemption of the company's 7% debentures of 2011 at face value of $250 million. The company expects to fund both the stock repurchase and the redemption of the debentures with existing cash on hand and anticipated free cash flow. "We believe the current stock price does not reflect the value of the company's transformation into a pure-play exploration and production company with two large resource plays in the Rockies, identified production growth and meaningful unbooked discoveries," said CEO Luke R. Corbett. "The impact of the debt reduction coupled with the stock repurchase enables the company to enhance value for our stockholders while maintaining a strong capital structure." Under the approved stock repurchase program, shares may be purchased from time to time in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions at prevailing prices. The company expects to begin the repurchases following the release of its 2005 financial results on Jan. 25.
With its restructuring efforts essentially complete, El Paso Corp. has simplified its corporate structure and renamed its production holding company to El Paso Exploration & Production Co. to reflect a stronger focus on producing domestic oil and natural gas. Lisa Stewart, president of El Paso Production and Non-regulated Operations, will continue to lead the unit. At the end of 2005, all of the domestic assets in the former El Paso Production Holding Co. were transferred to the revamped E&P unit. El Paso also restructured its CGP Co. and exchanged or assumed all of the company's outstanding notes. El Paso CGP, formerly Coastal Corp., intends to deregister with the Securities and Exchange Commission and cease its public reporting. El Paso completed a merger with Coastal in late January 2001. "By combining all of our domestic exploration and production assets into one company, we've taken another important step toward focusing on our core pipeline and production businesses and providing greater simplicity and clarity for our investors," said CEO Doug Foshee.
Amerada Hess Corp. plans to spend $750 million for exploration and exploitation this year, with more than half of the program focused on the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Hess has set aside $4 billion for its capital budget this year, with about $766 million earmarked for overseas opportunities. John O'Connor, president of Worldwide Exploration and Production, said Hess' Gulf projects will include drilling the Pony, Ouachita, Barossa, and Turtle Lake wildcat wells, and a Tubular Bells appraisal well, "with the remainder of the program focused on the best basins in other selected prospective areas." Excluding acquisitions, $3.1 billion is targeted for the entire Exploration and Production unit, and Hess will spend about $125 million is for Marketing and Refining. Hess will spend a total of $760 million on its U.S. projects, on- and offshore. "Our exploration and production program in 2006 results largely from planned investments in world-class field developments such as Okume, JDA Phase II, Pangkah, and Shenzi, and growth opportunities in new country entries, including Egypt, Libya, and Russia," said CEO John Hess. "Additionally, higher industry-wide costs for services and materials contribute to the increase in expenditures."
As part of a series of expanded programs by utilities in California to help buffer customers from this winter's expected high natural gas bills, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Wednesday announced it has doubled the funds available for its low-income assistance program, REACH (Relief for Assistance through Community Help), to $3 million through launching a pledge drive among its customers and employees. As a result maximum aid to qualifying low-income customers will be increased to $300/household, compared to its previous $200 limit. REACH, a one-time cash grant to customers in immediate need of energy assistance, is funded by donations from the utility's shareholders, employees and customers, and it is administered by The Salvation Army through a network of 170 offices in 45 counties, the utility said. Over the past 23 years, REACH has provided help to more than 400,000 low-income families. PG&E shareholders contributed $250,000 to REACH, and it will match new customer/employee donations up to an additional $750,000.
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