Anadarko: Tapping into the Gulf

Exploration efforts in the Gulf are paying off and potential new leases could add to the potential.

By TheStockAdvisors Apr 20, 2012 10:46AM
By Nathan Slaughter, Energy & Income

The U.S. government is about to open millions of acres of untapped Gulf waters for oil and gas exploration. As one of the world's largest independent oil and gas producers, Anadarko (APC) is one of the top players in the Gulf. 

The stock looks good now, but will look even better after June 20, 2012. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the Gulf of Mexico is home to roughly 75% of the nation's undiscovered offshore resources -- the bulk of which has been off limits to U.S. oil companies for years now. But that's all about to change.

Back in January, President Obama pledged to open up 38 million acres of virgin drilling territory off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The auctions for these leases will begin on June 20.

Collectively, this central and western Gulf acreage is believed to hold about three-fourths of the nation's potential offshore oil and gas resources. This could have a dramatic impact on energy production in the Gulf.

Anadarko has a working interest in more than 500 lease blocks that cover approximately three million acres. The company has spent around $8 billion hunting in the Gulf and other places since 2005.

And those investments have paid off in a big way -- adding four billion barrels to the company's potential resource base.

Better yet, Anadarko has a proven ability to develop new discoveries more quickly and efficiently than its peers. The credit belongs to eight production platform hubs, which link to satellite fields in the region.

As it stands, Anadarko pulls about 110,000 barrels of oil equivalent out of the Gulf of Mexico every day. That accounts for one-sixth of the company's overall production. And management has its sights set on 100 potential new targets.

So when the DOI opens up 38 million new acres for exploration, odds are good that Anadarko will be knocking at the door.

Let me warn you though. There are plenty of risks associated with drilling in the Gulf. Deepwater well leaks can lead to lost revenues, fines, litigation, permit delays, PR headaches and other serious problems that can send investors running.

But over the past five years, Anadarko has maintained an 80% success rate for deepwater exploration and appraisal, the best in the business.

Over the same time frame, the company has raised annual sales volume by 144 million barrels, booked 1.5 billion barrels of new reserves, and generated $2 billion in free cash flow.

All of that has translated into an 85% return for stockholders. Of course, past performance doesn't guarantee future results. But it does give you a good indication of the type of company this is.

And with the June 20 lease auctions unlocking a wave of new exploration potential in the Gulf, I think Anadarko looks like one of the best ways to play this coming oil boom.

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Tags: APCoil
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