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Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2001

Nikiski plant boosts Agrium earnings

Fertilizer maker Agrium Inc. has announced net earnings of $52 million for the first six months of 2001, up from $46 million for the first six months last year. Net earnings for the second quarter were $45 million, down from $51 million for the same period last year.

Agrium credits improved earnings for the first six months mainly to international sales from its Nikiski fertilizer plant, purchased from Unocal in September 2000. In addition, Agrium's 50-percent interest in the Profertil S.A. nitrogen plant in Argentina contributed to 2001 earnings. In North America, higher nitrogen prices and Agrium's strong hedging position in natural gas improved nitrogen margins. The first six months of 2001 also saw continued growth in retail earnings.

"Despite an extremely disappointing quarter, we are pleased with our improved results for the first six months of this year," said John Van Brunt, president and chief executive. "This improvement is encouraging given a spring season that did not shape up as expected due to poor weather conditions, low grain prices and grower concerns over rising input costs. All these factors translated into poor spring sales volumes, which in turn resulted in high inventories coming out of the spring application season."

Oil and gas drilling proposed at Katalla

The U.S. Forest Service seeks public comment on plans to drill for oil and gas in the Katalla area of the eastern Copper River delta, 56 miles southeast of Cordova.

Cassandra Energy Corp., working as an agent of Native-owned Chugach Alaska Corp., has asked the Forest Service to approve plans to drill from privately owned land to potential oil and gas deposits that may lie under public land. Cassandra proposes barging equipment, supplies and materials up the Katalla River to a 2-acre staging area within Chugach National Forest. The company would build up to a half-mile of new road from the staging area to an existing 2.5-mile road within the national forest.

The Forest Service must approve the plan of operations prior to exploratory drilling, and an environmental analysis will be done. The Forest Service will conduct a public scoping meeting Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at 3301 C Street, Suite 300, in Anchorage. There will also be a public meeting Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the courthouse in Cordova. Forest Service officials at the meetings will take public comments and answer questions.

Written comments may be e-mailed to khodges@fs.fed.us or mailed to Katalla Project, Cordova Ranger District, P.O. Box 280, Cordova, AK 99574.

Forest Oil announces record earnings

Forest Oil Corp. has announced record second-quarter net earnings of $50.6 million, up from $18.8 million during the second quarter last year. For the first six months of 2001, Forest reported record net earnings of $131.9 million, up from net earnings of $41.3 million during the first six months last year.

Daily oil and natural gas production averaged 475 million cubic feet equivalent of natural gas during the second quarter this year.

Unocal earnings fall

Unocal has announced net second-quarter earnings of $247 million, down from $264 million for the second quarter last year. Second-quarter revenues from continuing operations were $1.7 billion, down from $2.2 billion for the second quarter last year. Net daily production for the second quarter averaged 516,000 barrels of oil equivalent, up nearly 11 percent from a year ago.

Unocal's net earnings for the first six months of 2001 were $542 million, up from $397 million for the first six months last year. Its revenues for continuing operations were $3.9 billion, down from nearly $4.1 billion for the first six months last year.

--Clarion staff reports



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