Noble, Kerr McGee Raise Spending Plans

Independents Noble Affiliates and Kerr McGee Corp. have sharply increased their capital investment budgets this year. Kerr-McGee is budgeting a record $1.24 billion for capital expenditures in 2001, a 60% increase from the company's 2000 capital expenditures, and Noble's spending is being increased 40%, with 60% of the $700 million being used for developmental projects.

Under Noble's expanded program, to be funded with discretionary cash flow, the company expects production to increase 10%, with a rise in both natural gas and liquids.

The company said it would spend $300 million for Gulf of Mexico projects, with its expanded exploration and development of "core-shelf holdings," and selected deepwater areas. Another $70 million will be tagged for domestic onshore E&P. Noble also plans to beef up its international projects, and will set aside $240 million for development in China, Israel, Ecuador and the North Sea.

Increased gas production will come form several "onshore and Gulf of Mexico fields, including recent startups in South Timbalier and Viosca Knoll," along with other projects in West Cameron, East Cameron, Vermilion, Mississippi Canyon and South Texas.

The Kerr McGee budget for exploration and production in 2001 is $1.03 billion.

"The tremendous success of our exploration and appraisal program has resulted in three major development projects ongoing in 2001," said CEO Luke R. Corbett. "Production from the Kerr-McGee-operated Nansen and Boomvang fields in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and from our 100%-owned Leadon field in the North Sea will fuel a 13% increase in oil and gas production volumes in 2002."

Kerr McGee said $630 million will be allocated to the North Sea, $185 million to the Gulf of Mexico, $55 million to U.S. onshore and $160 million to international projects. The company is also budgeting $205 million for worldwide exploration expense, which should allow for the drilling of 25 to 30 exploratory wells. Capital expenditures for chemical operations are budgeted at $200 million in 2001.

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