Pioneer Reports Record Gas Volumes in Q4 in Argentina

US oil company Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD) saw record natural gas production in Argentina in 4Q04, as prices rose in line with promised gradual price increases for large customers, Pioneer's executive VP and CFO Tim Dove said during a conference call Thursday.

Pioneer's average gas price increased 22% to US$0.77 per thousand cubic feet in the fourth quarter from US$0.63 in the third quarter. Gasoline demand has remained high during the summer months when usage is lowest, Dove said. Consumers in the southern hemisphere normally use more gas during the winter months. Demand has been especially strong in Buenos Aires, which is experiencing usually hot weather. "Demand is very strong and we're seeing the promised increases in gas prices," Dove said.

Prices for large industrial and commercial consumers rose in October 2004 in line with a decision by the Argentine government to allow gradual price increases through 2006.

According to a previous BNamericas report, prices are expected to reach US$1.00 per thousand cubic feet this year and return to pre-devaluation levels by 2006.

Pioneer increased its Argentine natural gas production 21% to 138mcf/d in the third quarter 2004 from 114mcf/d in the same period of 2003. Dove did not give fourth quarter production figures in the conference call.

The US company also said in a statement Thursday that Guimar Vaca Coca, president of Pioneer Argentina, is retiring after 12 years with the company to be replaced by Marcelo Guiscardo. Pioneer will announce its fourth quarter earnings in a February 8 conference call.

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