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Benton Oil & Gas Explores Its Options, Including Possible Sale

April 03, 2001|From Bloomberg News

Benton Oil & Gas Co. said Monday it is considering a sale of the company, a sale of some of its assets in Venezuela and Russia and a restructuring of some of its debt to increase shareholder value.

The Carpinteria-based oil and gas exploration company has an operating license with Caracas-based Petroleos de Venezuela to drill for oil in three fields in eastern Venezuela.

Benton also owns two companies that have licenses to drill for oil and gas in Russia. Chief Financial Officer Steven Tholen said the Russian and Venezuelan holdings make up most of its assets.

Benton, which is burdened by debt, has unexploited and unrecognized value at its operations in Venezuela and Russia, Tholen said. He would not comment further.

Benton is reviewing these alternatives with its advisor Dresdner Bank's Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Tholen said. The company is also considering restructuring debt from 1995 and 1997 notes.

Its shares, which have fallen nearly 30% in the last year, fell 24 cents, or 10%, on Monday to close at $2.10 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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