U.S. Markets closed

WPX Energy shares continue to rise on Pa. ruling

NEW YORK (AP) -- WPX Energy Inc. shares continued to rise Tuesday, hitting their highest price in more than a year, after regulators ruled that the natural gas driller wasn't responsible for water contamination in Pennsylvania.

THE SPARK: Late last month, Pennsylvania regulators said their 16-month investigation showed that high levels of methane and other contaminants in the private water wells at three homes didn't result from WPX's drilling.

The methane in the residents' wells is naturally occurring shallow gas — possibly from nearby Salt Springs State Park — and not production gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

THE BIG PICTURE: The ruling was good news for Tulsa, Okla.-based WPX, which has faced heavy criticism for its hydraulic fracturing activities in the region. It also has been paying to have replacement water delivered to the homes in question.

The company's shares have risen steadily in the weeks since the ruling became public, gaining about 13 percent.

THE SHARES: Up 98 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $18.50 in midday trading, after peaking at $18.67 earlier in the day and setting a new 52-week high.