Shell Malaysia to invest $5.3b in next five years
Kuala Lumpur (Reuters) -
Shell Malaysia, a unit of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, said yesterday it plans to invest 20 billion ringgit ($5.3 billion) over the next five years to expand its oil and gas operations in Malaysia.

Shell Malaysia chairman Lim Haw Kuang said more than half of the total investments would be used for exploration activities. "We are also looking to expand our capabilities in the gas-to-liquid technology," Lim said at the launch of Shell Treasury Malaysia (L) Ltd, a company incorporated in Malaysia's offshore financial centre of Labuan.

Lim said the setting up of Shell Treasury would allow the group to centralise its debt funding activities for Shell's operations in Malaysia. Shell corporate treasurer Lim Tau Kien said the company would be looking at all financial instruments available including Islamic bonds to raise funds required by the group. "We will look at various options and will use whatever options which are best for us," she said.

BP Amoco to bid for 20 pct of Castrol India
Mumbai (Reuters) -
British oil giant BP Amoco said yesterday it was making a bid for a further 20 per cent stake in Castrol India through an open offer at Rs311.91 per share. BP Amoco already owns 51 per cent of Castrol and the firm said it was making the bid as per India's takeover regulations which stipulate an open offer if a control of a firm changes hands.

BP Amoco had acquired Castrol India's UK parent Burmah Castrol Plc earlier this year. A draft public announcement released yesterday by merchant banker JM Morgan Stanley Ltd said BP Amoco's wholly-owned subsidiary Castrol UK will be making the offer.

The letters of offer will be mailed to shareholders whose names are registered on the books on December 11. The offer will be open for a month between January 29 and February 28 next year. BP Amoco's cost, if the offer is fully accepted, will work out to about Rs7.70 billion ($164.7 million).

Castrol shares listed on the Bombay exchange yesterday jumped 16 per cent, which is the daily limit on price changes, to Rs271.65. The stock, which is a constituent of the main Bombay Stock Exchange Index, has risen 55 per cent since touching a year low of Rs174.50 in October.

Analysts said a further rise is likely in coming days. Castrol India is one of the country's leading private lubricants makers with a total income in 1999 of Rs12.19 billion and net profit of Rs2.04 billion.

Iraq still pumping oil to Ceyhan storage, no export
Ankara (Reuters) -
Turkey's state pipeline concern Botas said yesterday Iraq was still pumping crude at a rate of 3,000 cubic metres per hour (530,000 barrels per day) into the Mediterranean Ceyhan terminal but that there was still no exports for the seventh consecutive day.

"The pipeline is still pumping at 3,000 cubic metres an hour," said one Botas official. "But there are no loadings as there is no agreement between Iraq and the United Nations." Iraq halted oil exports on December 1 after the United Nations rejected its December oil price proposals as too low.

Iraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed said earlier in the day there was no agreement over December price formulas yet between Baghdad and the UN oil-for-food overseers. Although exports stopped, Iraq continued pumping oil into Ceyhan's storage tanks which consist of 12 units, each of one million barrels capacity.

The official did not say how much oil was in the tanks or when they would be filled. Oil traders earlier said oil was flowing at a 350,000-500,000 bpd rate and estimated storage would reach capacity between December 25-27.

Norway's Statoil says spuds wildcat in Barents Sea
Oslo (Reuters) -
Norwegian state-owned oil firm Statoil said yesterday it had spudded its first wildcat well in the North Cape Basin of the Barents Sea off northern Norway on December 5.

"The well is primarily intended to check for hydrocarbons in Upper Triassic and Jurassic sandstones," Erik Henriksen, a Statoil sector manager, said in a statement. Statoil's Transocean Arctic platform is slated to drill to a depth of 2,800 metres in 288 metres of water in the region relatively new for such hydrocarbon exploration.

The well is the fourth being drilled by Transocean Arctic in the eastern Barents Sea this year. The four wells are the first to be drilled in the Barent's Sea for six years. Norwegian industrial company Norsk Hydro drilled a duster in August, while Norsk Agip found oil in early October and small quantities of gas, the statement said.

Enterprise partners of license PL-202 include Statoil with 25 per cent, the state's direct financial interest (SDFI) with 30 per cent, Amerada Hess with 25 per cent and Hydro with 20 per cent. Norway is the biggest non-Opec oil exporter and produces about 3.2 million barrels per day of crude.