PANHANDLE EASTERN OPTIMISTIC ON US NATURAL GAS INVESTMENT

PANHANDLE EASTERN OPTIMISTIC ON US NATURAL GAS INVESTMENT

Ample natural gas investment opportunities exist in the United States, said Paul Anderson, Panhandle Eastern Corp.'s chief executive officer.

''We are going slowly; we have a lot of opportunities here," he said.He said the company was not in a "massive thrust" to seek out overseas projects.

''There is a lot of value left in the U.S.," he said. "We're

finding a home for half of a billion dollars (in investments) here."

After taking into consideration such issues as taxes, repatriation and political risks, the rate of return on foreign investments is only five to six percentage points higher than comparable U.S. investments, Mr. Anderson said.

Panhandle Eastern said it would spend $465 million for capital

investments in 1995 - of which 64 percent will go toward its core pipeline business and 36 percent toward expanding nonregulated ventures, such as gas gathering and marketing.

Mr. Anderson said most 1995 capital expenditures would be in the United States.

But he said the company was considering a number of overseas project proposals, especially in South America. Panhandle is expected to complete an agreement by the end of August that involves the construction of a natural gas pipeline and a gas-fired power plant.

Mr. Anderson said he would pursue a foreign project if Panhandle is not required to own more than a 25 percent stake or to commit more than $35 million to the project.

The project must be a joint venture that already involves one local partner and one other major U.S. partner, he said.