Denver-based Whiting Petroleum Corp. said Wednesday it would buy 17 oil and natural gas fields in the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico for $345 million. The private sellers were not disclosed.

Whiting estimates that current net production from the properties is 37.8 MMcfe/d and that net proved reserves being purchased are 251.1 Bcfe, resulting in an acquisition cost for these properties of $1.37/Mcfe. Nearly 72% of the net daily production from these properties will be operated by Whiting.

CEO James J. Volker said the reserves are located in “several key fields,” including Parkway Field in Eddy County, NM, Would Have and Signal Peak Fields in Howard County, TX, Keystone Field in Winkler County, TX, and the DEB Field in Gaines County, TX.

“We plan to continue the development of the proved undeveloped and other non-producing reserves in this acquisition,” said Volker. “We believe development of just the proved undeveloped reserves in this acquisition offers the opportunity to increase the current rate of production from these properties by over 50% during the next 18 months. This acquisition adds about 300 operated producing wells in our Permian core area making it operationally equal to our North Dakota core area.”

The effective date of the acquisition is July 1, and closing is expected by Sept. 23. The acquisition will be financed using bank debt. Whiting plans to hedge most of the production from these four cash acquisitions.

“For the year, Whiting has completed or entered into agreements for approximately $520 million of acquisition and merger transactions at a total acquisition cost of about $1.23/Mcfe,” said Volker. “We estimate the reserves associated with the mergers and acquisitions will replace more than 900% of our estimated 2004 production. Once these transactions and associated properties are assimilated into Whiting by Oct. 1, 2004, net production is estimated to be approximately 176 MMcfe/d.”

Whiting will hold a conference call to discuss the acquisition at 10:30 a.m. EST on Thursday. The call will be webcast at

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