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Noble Energy Inc. (NBL - Analyst Report) is all set to construct a large-scale liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) facility in Weld County, Colorado. The LNG plant, the first in the state, will have a processing capacity of 30 million cubic feet (“MMcf”) and a production capability of 100,000 gallons per day.

The LNG plant valued at $45.0 million will serve as a major fuel supplier to Noble’s rig drilling operations and to other equipments in the Denver/Julesburg (“DJ”) Basin.  It also plans to sell the residual fuel quantities to other energy operators in the region.

The new LNG complex is a part of the company’s existing Keota natural gas plant and will come into service just after the Keota facility begins operations in the latter half of 2014. Noble has contracted with Houston-based Audubon Engineering Co. to overlook the engineering and design of the plant.

Noble’s LNG plant is a strategic move to meet the stringent environmental regulations regarding reduction in carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compound emissions. The company is also contemplating to substitute its compressed natural gas assets with LNG in the future.

Noble Energy is expected to invest around $1.7 billion in its entire Colorado operations in 2013. Also, as much as $10.0 billion is estimated to be allocated for ensuring safe and eco-friendly development of oil and gas prospects in the DJ Basin in the next five years. This speaks for the company’s efforts to explore high-growth prospects without compromising on safety norms and environmental ethics.

We believe the LNG plant will complement Noble’s active presence in the resource-rich DJ Basin, which will further boost near-term output and contribute to revenues. Besides DJ Basin, the company is also pursuing prospects in Nevada and is likely to gain from its New Ventures exploration program in the region.

Furthermore, the company’s international business looks encouraging given the recent increase in resource estimates in the Leviathan play, offshore Israel. Presently, Noble Energy carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

We, however, prefer Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) operators, Range Resources Corporation (RRC - Analyst Report), EPL Oil & Gas Inc. and Stone Energy Corp. (SGY - Analyst Report).

Based in Houston, TX, Noble Energy, an independent energy company, engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, production, and marketing of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids in the United States and worldwide.

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