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Industry Briefs

Industry Briefs

By hedging additional natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids (NGL) production for 2005, Energen Corp. is raising its earnings guidance by 15 cents to a range of $4.25-$4.45/share in 2005. The Birmingham, AL-based company hedged an additional 0.9 Bcf of its 2005 gas production at a New York Mercantile Exchange-equivalent price of $6.56/Mcf, 0.4 million bbl of its oil production at a Nymex-equivalent price of $43.825/bbl, and 20.2 million gallons of its NGL production at an average price of 62.8 cents/gallon. Included in the company's 2005 earnings guidance is an estimated 3 cents/diluted share from an unidentified $200 million acquisition in 4Q2004. The company's 2005 guidance also assumes that prices applicable to Energen's unhedged production will average $6/Mcf for gas, $32/bbl for oil, and 53 cents/gallon for NGLs.

Facing higher natural gas costs, Unitil has filed an interim increase in its Cost of Gas Adjustment (CGA) factor with the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy (MDTE). If approved, a typical residential heating customer using 150 therms/month in the winter would see an increase of $11.06 or 5.4% over the current rates. The increase would take effect Jan. 1. "Wholesale natural gas prices spiked and have continued to remain high for the winter period," said Karen Asbury, Unitil's director of regulatory services. "High energy costs are affecting all energy consumers and we encourage our customers to use energy efficiently and to take advantage of the programs available to help manage their bills." The CGA in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is normally set every six months to reflect changes in wholesale gas supply costs incurred by the local distribution company (LDC) to provide gas service to its customers. The CGA is initially based on estimates, and then reconciled to actual costs at the end of the period, with interest on over-or under-collections. Gas supply costs are recovered through the CGA without profit or mark up by the LDC.

Southern Union said it will change from a June 30 fiscal year end to a Dec. 31 calendar year end because of its new more midstream business profile. "Our decision to change to a calendar year end reflects Southern Union's new business profile -- weighted heavily toward the natural gas transportation sector," said Southern Union President Thomas F. Karam. "We feel that this move will also provide the investment community more comparative information with which to better evaluate Southern Union against its peers." The change in the company's reporting period will create a six-month stub period from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2004. A transition report on Form 10-K, including audited financial statements for the six-month stub period, will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on or before March 16, 2005. Southern Union previously announced calendar year 2004 and 2005 earnings guidance of $1.00 to $1.10 per share and $1.45 to $1.55 per share, respectively.

Crosstex Energy LP agreed to buy the assets of Graco Operations, one of its key competitors in the treating business, for $9.25 million. In a separate transaction, it bought the partnership interests that it does not own in a gathering system in Harrison County, TX, for $5 million. "These acquisitions are a continuation of Crosstex's growth strategy," said Crosstex CEO Barry E. Davis. "The treating equipment to be acquired will enhance our ability to execute on the organic growth we envision in 2005 in our treating segment. In addition, the operating plants to be acquired will expand our reach to new geographic regions and customers." The acquired operations include 25 treating plants and a vast inventory of related equipment. Seven of the plants are currently in service and generate annual cash flow of $1 million. The remaining plants in inventory represent one of the largest fleets of available treating equipment in the industry and will be available to fulfill a portion of Crosstex's anticipated growth in the treating business in 2005. Atlas Pipeline Partners LP announces that the hedged position on the Appalachian natural gas production it transports for Atlas America Inc. has been increased through additional forward sales. The natural gas transported by the partnership is now subject to hedges of 2.7 Bcf of natural gas (13% of projected transportation throughput) at a price of $7.02/Mcf from April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007. Additionally, the company added to its natural gas hedging position through March 2006. The natural gas the partnership transports is now subject to hedges of 11.3 Bcf of gas (49% of projected transportation throughput) in 2005 at a price of $6.76/Mcf and 2.6 Bcf of natural gas (41% of projected transportation throughput) in the first quarter of 2006 at a price of $6.84/Mcf. Atlas Pipeline Partners receives transportation fees from Atlas America generally based upon a percentage of the selling price received by Atlas America, which are impacted by physical hedges. Atlas America provides substantially all of the natural gas Atlas Pipeline Partners transports in Appalachia.

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