Big Oil Turns to More Reliable Economies for Growth

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire -12/16/11)- Oil prices were hammered earlier this week as ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) embraced higher output without setting new quota rules. The 12-nation oil cartel nations agreed to maintain current output of 30 million barrels per day (bpd), citing an uncertain outlook for energy demand. The Paragon Report examines the outlook for companies in the Major Integrated Oil & Gas Industry and provides equity research on BP Plc (NYSE: BP - News) (LSE: BP - News) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP - News). Access to the full company reports can be found at:

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A recent report from The Wall Street Journal explains that major oil companies are increasingly turning their focus away from the Persian Gulf and toward developed countries as unconventional sources like shale gas and oil sands, once too difficult to extract, are now being pursued in North America. "A company like ExxonMobil can eliminate the technological risk" of developing unconventionals, said Amy Myers Jaffe, senior energy adviser at Rice University's Baker Institute. "But it can't eliminate the risk of a Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez."

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The U.S. is leading the pursuit of unconventionals, with shale sources predicted to account for one-third of total U.S. oil and gas production by 2020, according to Washington-based consultancy PFC Energy. Meanwhile, the Alberta oil sands are seeing a massive jump in investments. According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, $253 billion in initial capital will be invested in the construction of oil sands facilities over the next 25 years.

Not all oil companies are looking as aggressively toward unconventionals, however. BP has fewer investments in tar sands and shale gas than its peers such as Chevron, although it maintains a significant stake in deep-water oil.

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