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Davis Petroleum to focus on Rockies

DENVER — The company run by the son of the late billionaire Marvin Davis plans a major energy exploration push in Colorado and Wyoming and has hired a veteran oil man to oversee its Rocky Mountain operations.

Davis Petroleum Inc., a private company based in Houston and run by Gregg Davis, said this month that Mike McGuire, 54, will run the operations.

McGuire has spent three decades looking for oil and gas in the region. His is a former top exploration executive at Prima Energy Corp. McGuire said he plans to add staff to Davis' 10-person Denver office.

"We are going to be prudent, but we are going to staff up as quickly as we can," he said.

The company, which has 170,000 leased acres available for exploration in the Rockies, said it plans to build reserves by drilling but won't rule out acquisitions.

Davis is just one of several companies showing heightened interest in the region, said Kathleen Eccleston, spokeswoman at the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.

"Domestic natural gas has to come from somewhere, and a very significant portion of America's natural-gas resources are located in the Intermountain West," she said.

The Rockies are viewed as one of the nation's most promising regions of new natural gas development. The government estimates that Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming contain 41 percent of the nation's gas reserves.

Since April, three Denver companies have announced they are being acquired. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. of Dallas is buying Evergreen Resources Inc. for about $1.7 billion in cash and stock. Canadian energy giant EnCana Corp. is buying Tom Brown Inc. for $2.2 billion in cash. And Kerr-McGee Corp. is buying Westport Resources Corp. in an estimated $2.4 billion stock deal.

The return of the Davis family, which ran Davis Oil, Denver's leading independent oil and gas producer from the 1960s to the 1980s, is symbolic. Davis Oil's successor, Davis Petroleum, has maintained a small office in Denver.

Marvin Davis, who died Sept. 25, approved of his son's plans to refocus on the Rocky Mountain region, McGuire said.