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New York-based Hess Corp. has completed sidetracking its Pony discovery in Green Canyon Block 468, which established a record for the deepest conventional core ever recovered in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Results to date in its 100%-owned discovery have been consistent with pre-drill expectations, and total hydrocarbon resource on the Hess acreage is estimated to be in the range of 100-600 MMboe. The sidetrack well, drilled approximately 2,700 feet northeast of the discovery well to a depth of 30,634 feet, encountered 280 feet of oil-saturated sandstone in Miocene age reservoirs after penetrating 60% of its geological objective. Drilling of the sidetrack well was stopped for mechanical reasons after successfully recovering 450 feet of conventional core. Casing has been set across the oil bearing interval to allow for future production. Hess said the oil bearing section in the sidetrack well is similar in thickness and quality to the equivalent interval in the discovery well, which was drilled to 32,448 feet and encountered 475 feet of oil saturated sandstone. The company will next drill an appraisal well with the Ocean Baroness rig at the Pony No. 2 location, about 7,400 feet northwest of the discovery well.

Falcon Gas Storage subsidiary NorTex Gas Storage closed on a secured $335 million bank loan for the expansion of its Hill-Lake and Worsham-Steed gas storage facilities and other projects in North Texas. The financing will be used to complete the Phase II and Phase III expansions of the Hill-Lake Gas Storage Facility in Eastland County, as well as the Phase I and Phase II expansions of the Worsham-Steed Gas Storage Facility in Jack County. The latter project includes the construction of a 63-mile, 24-inch diameter 450 MMcfd takeaway pipeline that will traverse the western expansion of the Barnett Shale gas play in North Texas. The loan also will be used to finance two 60 MMcfd cryogenic gas processing plants, the expansion of crude oil production operations at both storage facilities and the recovery of crude oil produced in association with gas storage operations at both locations. "This new bank financing represents the next big step for us in implementing our business strategy, following the equity investment by Arcapita in 2005," said Falcon CEO John M. Hopper. "We've been involved for over six years in gas storage development and operations activity in North Texas. The financing will allow NorTex to complete the full-phase expansions at both Hill-Lake and Worsham-Steed, as well as construction of a new 450 MMcfd take-away pipeline in the Barnett Shale, in order to meet the growing demand for high-deliverability, multi-cycle gas storage services and gas transportation services in the rapidly expanding North Texas energy market."

Briarcliff Manor, NY-based Optionable Inc., a provider of natural gas and other energy derivatives brokerage services, announced Thursday that December's number of contracts traded for its clients is an all-time high. For the month of December, Optionable executed the trade of 1,780,659 options and swaps contracts either through voice brokerage, OPEX, or the New York Mercantile Exchange floor. This number excludes the processing of bilateral contracts converted to cleared contracts. The company provides its services to brokerage firms, financial institutions, energy traders and hedge funds nationwide. In addition to the traditional voice brokerage business, Optionable developed OPEX, a real-time electronic trade matching and brokerage system designed to improve liquidity and transparency in the energy derivatives market.

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