Market Overview

How to Profit From America's Saudi Arabia


Admittedly, that headline is hyperbole, but the fact is North Dakota's oil production is rising at an impressive clip. On Tuesday, the state's Industrial Commission said oil producers operating there pumped an average of 510,000 barrels per day in November 2011.

That's up from 360,000 barrels per day in November 2010 and above the 464,122 barrels per day produced in September 2011. North Dakota, home to one of the best rates of employment in the U.S., is currently the fourth-largest oil producing state in the union and could become the second-largest, trailing only Texas, by early 2013.

In fact, at 500,000 barrels per day, North Dakota's oil production tops that of OPEC member Ecuador, according to various press reports. There are various ways to play North Dakota's oil boom so let's drill down on some more today.

Oasis Petroleum (NYSE: OAS) A fair amount of investors probably haven't heard of Oasis Petroleum, but that may change following a bullish write-up in Investor's Business Daily earlier this week. The company was formed to focus solely on the Bakken Shale, where it owns about 300,000 acres. The Oasis growth story is astounding. According to IBD, Oasis' third-quarter revenue nearly tripled while EPS almost quadrupled. EPS is expected to more than double again this year.

With prime Bakken acreage, a market cap of less than $3 billion and surging output, Oasis could be an ideal takeover target.

Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR) Continental Resources has over 900,000 Bakken acres making the company one of the biggest players in the region. The company is forecasting 2012 capital expenditures of $950 million for the Bakken region and hopes to be pumping 70,000 barrels per day there by the end of 2012. At over 24 times forward earnings, Continental is pricier than Oasis and quadruple the size based on market value.

Based on Continental's acreage and the prices rumored to have been paid in recent Bakken acquisitions, the company probably isn't a takeover target unless a major integrated company makes a move on it. That means this is a growth story, but it can continue as Continental meets or exceeds its own Bakken production targets.

Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE: KOG) They say stocks don't move in straight lines, yet that's basically what Kodiak has done in the past three months as the shares have nearly doubled. Even with that, this is still a small-cap stock by definition with a market cap of less than $1.5 billion. The company has 150,000 Bakken acres and if the $12,000 per acre Statoil (NYSE: STO) paid for Brigham Exploration last year is an accurate number, than Kodiak could easily be worth more than $10 a share if taken over.

We're not saying that's going to happen, but Kodiak is increasing its Bakken production and more increases in the share price could follow as a result.

GeoResources (Nasdaq: GEOI) By market value, this is the smallest member of our list, but don't let that be an issue. The company currently has approximately 25,000 net operated acres in northwest Williams County, North Dakota and 8,200 net operated acres in eastern Montana, according a statement issued on Tuesday. Plus, GeoRources has a contracted a third rig for its Bakken properties that is expected to be delivered in the second quarter.

Somewhat speculative, GeoResources said two of its Bakken wells have spud in the past month and the average 30-day production from them is almost 300 barrels per day. Resistance for the stock is $30.

Bigger Name Bakken Plays to Consider: ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG), Hess (NYSE: HES) and Statoil, Norway's largest oil company.


Traders who believe that the Bakken theme is legitimate might want to consider the following trades:
  • Long Oasis as it looks like an ideal takeover target.
  • Long Statoil for international exposure and to grab some decent yield
  • Long oil services stocks such a Halliburton (NYSE: HAL).li>
Traders who believe that the Bakken Shale isn't all it's cracked up to be may consider alternative positions:
  • Short GeoResources. Any North Dakota disappointments and this stock could be savagely beaten.
  • Short Hess. A lot of this company's growth potential is tied to North Dakota.
  • Long the ProShares UltraShort Oil & Gas (NYSE: DUG)
Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

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