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ANR Pipeline Co. said bids for 17 Bcf of capacity have been awarded for Phase I of a storage enhancement project in Michigan, which surpassed its target of 13 Bcf. The El Paso Corp. subsidiary is expanding existing storage fields and developing new fields, all in Michigan, under a plan unveiled last November (see NGI, Nov. 21, 2005). The expected in-service date for Phase I is April 1, 2007. Through Feb. 22, ANR is holding a binding open season for Phase II of the project, also to provide additional natural gas storage and associated transport service. The binding open season for Phase II primarily targets customers requesting incremental service beginning April 1, 2008. Results will be used to allocate capacity among all interested shippers. ANR will use the binding precedent agreements from both phases of the project to finalize project design and pursue the regulatory approvals necessary to implement the project. The 10,600-mile ANR Pipeline system delivers 6.45 Bcf/d of supplies to Midwest and Northeast markets, and it currently has more than 230 Bcf of storage capacity.

Fort Worth-based Range Resources Corp., which concentrates on exploration in the Southwest, Appalachia and the Gulf Coast region of the United States, reported 4Q2005 production volumes rose to 250.3 MMcfe/d, a 16.5% increase over the same period a year ago. About 72% of the company's output in the quarter was natural gas. Continuing its third straight year of production growth, Range said 2005 production averaged 239.1 MMcfe/d, a 22% increase over 2004. Range's 4Q2005 oil and gas price realizations (including the impact of hedging) averaged $6.87/Mcfe, a 40% increase over the prior-year period and a 9% increase over 3Q2005. Last year, about a quarter of Range's production was hedged with swaps that were put in place several years ago at prices significantly lower than current market prices. These swaps expired at the end of 2005.

In response to plummeting natural gas futures prices, the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc. (Nymex) on Thursday announced some margin changes for its natural gas futures, Henry Hub swap futures, Henry Hub penultimate swap futures, and Nymex miNY natural gas futures contracts, which went into effect at the close of business last Friday. The margin reduction for natural gas was the exchange's second in the last two weeks (see Daily GPI, Jan. 18). Over the course of a month and a half, February natural gas futures have dropped $8.03 from the Dec. 13 high of $15.78 to last Thursday's intraday low of $7.75. The February contract expired Friday afternoon. Nymex said Thursday that the margins on the second month of the natural gas futures contract decreased to $8,000 from $9,000 for clearing members, to $8,800 from $9,900 for members, and to $10,800 from $12,150 for customers. Margins for the third to eighth months increased to $7,000 from $6,500 for clearing members, to $7,700 from $7,150 for members, and to $9,450 from $8,775 for customers. For more details on Nymex's margin rates go to http://www.nymex.com.

Boston-based Honeoye Storage said it is offering 160,000 dekatherms of firm storage space at its Rochester, NY, gas storage field for a term ending Dec. 15. Injections can begin immediately at a maximum daily rate of 8,000 Dth/d. The maximum withdrawal rate on the contract would be 4,000 Dth/d from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. Honeoye will provide all the cushion gas required. The storage field is connected to Tennessee Gas Pipeline east of Rochester. Honeoye is owned by KeySpan, Consolidated Edison and three private developers. For details, go to www.honeoyestorage.com.

Platinum Energy Resources has entered into a definitive agreement to buy Tandem Energy Holdings, an independent oil and gas production company, for $105 million in cash and fees. Platinum said it will be guaranteed $5 million in working capital. Tandem's producing properties are located primarily in Texas and New Mexico with net proved reserves of 8.849 million boe, 64% crude oil and 36% natural gas. Montvale, NJ-based Platinum was incorporated in April 2005 to acquire an operating business in the energy industry. It completed its initial public offering on Oct. 24, 2005, receiving net proceeds of $106 million through the sale of 14.4 million units of its securities at $8 per unit. Platinum holds over more than $105 million in a trust account maintained by an independent trustee, which will be released to the company upon the closing of the merger with Tandem. "Tandem's strong producing properties combined with its development opportunity are a perfect foundation on which to execute our business plan of optimizing profit irrespective of the global energy market's performance," said Platinum CEO Barry Kostiner. "We look forward to building on the attractive value created by Tandem's management."

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