The Coastal Corporation announced that it is increasing its 1999 capital budget for exploration and production to $880 million from $590 million. ``The $290 million increase for Coastal Oil & Gas Corporation is a direct result of recent strength in natural gas prices,'' said David A. Arledge, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Coastal Corporation. Some $190 million of the increase is earmarked for acquisitions and $100 million is for additional drilling and well workover programs. ``Coastal is minimizing risk in increasing its reserve base and production rates through acquisitions,'' Arledge said. ``In the meantime, drilling costs have remained at very reasonable levels. This increase in capital expenditures demonstrates Coastal's ability to respond quickly to market changes.'' Coastal's expanded budget will be dedicated to its three core areas: the Rocky Mountains, the onshore Gulf Coast of Texas, and the Gulf of Mexico.