CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Columbia Natural Resources Inc. has bought 24 natural gas and oil wells and 5,000 acres of land in Calgary, Alberta, for its first international operation, officials said Monday.

``We are stretching CNR's exploration and production operations beyond our traditional area to explore new opportunities beyond the mature Appalachian Basin,'' said company president W. Henry Harmon.

The $3.6 million purchase from Calgary-based Paragon Petroleum is part of CNR's expansion that began last year, he said.

The Canadian operations will be controlled by a new subsidiary, Columbia Natural Resources Canada Ltd.

CNR, based in Charleston, has 7,600 wells in eight states and more than 4,000 miles of natural gas lines, accounting for 12 percent of production in the Appalachian Basin, according to the company.