The Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the U.S. Department of the Interior has granted royalty relief to the Mariner Energy for its "Pluto" Deepwater Gulf of Mexico exploitation project. Pluto is located in Mississippi Canyon Blocks 673, 674, 717 and 718 in 2,710 feet of water. By granting royalty relief, the MMS has suspended royalty payments on the first 87.5 million barrels of oil equivalent produced from the field. Drilling of the production well and installation of the flow line, control umbilical and related facilities at Pluto are underway, and Mariner anticipates first production in the fourth quarter of 1999. Mariner is the operator of the Pluto project and owns a 37 percent working interest in the project, which is expected to increase to 51 percent after project payout. Burlington Resources Offshore, Inc., a subsidiary of Burlington Resources Inc., owns the remaining 63 percent working interest, which is expected to decline to 49 percent after project payout.