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Range Resources invests big in Appalachian shale

Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based independent petroleum producer, said Monday it boosted its 2008 capital budget by $200 million, to nearly $1.3 billion, and announced plans to issue additional stock and debt.

Range said much of the new spending will go to increase its acreage in the Marcellus Shale of Appalachia. The company already has more than a million net acres in the Marcellus, mostly in Pennsylvania, and bills itself as the busiest driller in the area.

It also raised its production target for 2008, aiming to increase production by 19 percent, compared to 15 percent previously.

Range said it plans to sell between 3.5 million and 4 million shares, which at the company’s current stock price of about $69 would raise as much as $276 million before expenses. Shortly after that issue is completed, the company said it intends to issue $250 million in 10-year notes.

The company will use the proceeds from the stock offering to pay down existing debt, as well as other corporate purposes, it said.