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Bankers Petroleum set to spin off U.S. division

CALGARY -- Bankers Petroleum Ltd. is to spin off its U.S. division, becoming the second Canadian energy company this week to announce it is splitting itself into smaller parts

Bankers, a Calgary-based junior with market capitalization of $860-million, mainly produces heavy oil in Albania, but has also been developing a shale gas project in Oklahoma.

Recent drilling success in the United States means it makes sense to split the company into separate concerns to allow them to focus on growing the two very different assets, Bankers chief executive officer Abby Badwi said during a conference call. "This is the best thing for our shareholders. This provides focus and clarity, and allows each team to carry on with its own business plan."

The decision, which he said has been under consideration for months, follows that of EnCana Corp., which said earlier this week it would split itself into separate North American oil- and gas-focused concerns.

Under terms of its split, Bankers Petroleum will continue to focus on Albania, where the company produces 5,500 barrels of crude oil a day. A new company, BNK Petroleum Inc., will be formed, and will develop the company's U.S. assets, which include the promising Tishomingo gas field in Oklahoma. BNK plans to drill 30 wells in the United States during the rest of 2008.

Each stockholder will get one BNK share for every 10 common shares held in Bankers.

© The Globe and Mail

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