By Mark Memmott

Oil giant Exxon Mobil just announced it is buying XTO Energy for $31 billion and will assume $10 billion of the Fort Worth-based company's debt.

As the Associated Press writes, "Exxon has moved quickly to pick up valuable natural gas fields and now it is snapping up XTO, which claims about 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas."

Dow Jones Newswire reports that the deal will boost Exxon Mobil's "presence in the natural-gas industry at a time of low prices for the commodity." Also, the deal will "put to rest speculation about when Exxon, which hasn't had a major acquisition since the merger a decade ago with Mobil, would take advantage of lower commodity prices pressuring smaller and debt-loaded companies in the oil patch."

Just after the start of trading, Exxon Mobil's shares are down about 0.25%, at just under $71.

Share of XTO are up about 17%, at $48.75.

Texas oil legend T. Boone Pickens has been touting the benefits of natural gas (and wind power) in recent years.

categories: Business, Energy

9:38 - December 14, 2009