Murphy Oil Corp. is selling off some of its conventional oil and gas properties in western Canada to free up some cash for projects in growth areas outside of North America. The properties for sale have total proved reserves of about 40 MMboe and currently produce 20 Mboe/d. The announcement was light on details, but the El Dorado, AR-based producer holds an interest in more than two million acres in western Canada. Although it did not detail what it would sell, Murphy plans to keep its Hybernia and Terra Nova properties off of Canada’s East Cost. The company also plans to retain its 5% stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd., which is the world’s largest producer of oil from oil sands. A Murphy spokeswoman said the properties for sale have garnered attention, especially by Canadian-based royalty trusts. Following the sale, the company most likely would use the proceeds to invest in “higher growth areas,” including Malaysia, where it is a large lease holder. Earlier this year, Murphy announced a significant discovery in Malaysia, which could contain 100-300 million bbl. In November, Murphy dropped its third quarter earnings profit $4.4 million because of costs from an unsuccessful natural gas well in Alberta. The gas prospect lowered Murphy’s third quarter net income by 5 cents/share.

Strong contributions from its core regulated natural gas and electricity businesses are expected to help KeySpan Corp. improve earnings next year in the range of $2.55 to $2.75/share. The Brooklyn, NY-based company also has affirmed that its 2003 earnings will range between $2.45-$2.60/share, excluding special items. CEO Robert B. Catell said the company is projecting 5-6% growth in its core businesses, which would be “supported by continued organic growth in our low-saturated gas business, and the addition of the 250 MW generation plant at Ravenswood in our electric business.” Catell said the growth would be enhanced with the company’s increased focus on improving operational and capital efficiency. KeySpan’s Gas Distribution segment profits are expected to add $55 million next year, similar to this year, as the business continues to add gas conversions and new customers across all of its distribution territories. Its Electric Services business also is expected to continue to provide a solid earnings contribution from contractual and load pocket operations in the New York City and Long Island regions. Also expected to add to growth in 2004 is KeySpan’s languishing Energy Services business, which complements its core gas distribution business. The business is focused on improving performance of both Home Energy Services and Business Solutions, which are expected to return to profitability in 2004, the company said. KeySpan’s Exploration and Production business segment also continues to benefit from favorable gas commodity prices, and production levels will rise about 10% in 2004. The company also has hedged 70% of 2004 production, at an approximate weighted average floor price of $4.25/MMBtu and ceiling price of $5.70/MMBtu.

Gaz Metropolitan & Co. and TransCanada Corp. increased their ownership stake in the northeastern-based Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS) after closing on a $56 million purchase from El Paso Corp. Affiliates of TransCanada and Gaz Metro purchased El Paso’s 29.64% stake in PNGTS as part of a plan to support El Paso’s previously announced plan to exit non-core businesses. Gaz Metro increased its overall stake to 38.2% from 26.9% through a $21.6 million purchase of El Paso interest. TransCanada now owns 61.7% of PNGTS. PNGTS’s 293-mile, 210 MMcf/d interstate natural gas pipeline connects with the Trans Quebec & Maritimes Pipeline, which is jointly owned by TransCanada and Gaz Metro, near Pittsburgh, NH. On its southern end in Maine, it connects with Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline and Tennessee Gas Pipeline. It delivers natural gas throughout New England, including markets in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Indonesian officials apparently will sign an agreement with BP plc to sell 3 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for marketing into the United States by Sempra Energy. BP Indonesia, which operates as a sharing contractor with Indonesia’s state-run oil company Pertamina, and Sempra would sign a head of agreement (HoA) on the LNG sale from the Tangguh field in Papua. Indonesia’s energy minister said he would attend the signing ceremony in the United States, scheduled for mid-December. If the Sempra-BP project works, it would be the second of its kind involving Indonesian LNG in recent months. In August, Marathon Oil Co. obtained a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Indonesian LNG supplies for its proposed receiving terminal to be located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico (see NGI, Sept. 1). According to Marathon, the MOU with Pertamina and P. T. Exspan Tomori Sulawesi is for up to 6 metric tons of LNG annually for a 20-year period. The supplies could come from still-to-be constructed liquefaction facilities on Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island.

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