Permian Basin Brings Over a Billion Barrels of Oil Opportunity

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The Permian Basin in West Texas is truly a story of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Since its discovery, the oil-rich region has had its ups and downs, with activity sloping downward through the 1960s and early 1970s, reviving with higher oil prices in the late 1970s and 1980s, dwindling again in the 1990s and then roaring back in the 2000s. Now there is a growing consensus that the region may hold much more oil than was ever estimated in the past.

In a new research report, the oil exploration and production analysts at Wunderlich make it very clear they like the Permian for the variety of stacked pays offered. They also think that producers are just starting to understand the full potential of the resource plays in the region. They estimate that there is the potential for more than 100 years of production and that the region could have well over a billion barrels of oil. Due to the incredible resource size, most of the major exploration and production companies are there, in addition to the large integrateds. The following are the companies with the resources to exploit the huge amount of oil in the region.

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Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) is a top name to buy at almost every Wall Street firm we cover. CNBC’s Jim Cramer was pounding the table on the stock Tuesday as a name to own for the rest of the year. The Thomson/First Call price target is placed at $111. The stock closed Tuesday at $93.44.

Apache Corp. (APA) has been wounded recently as it had a large exposure in the volatile Middle East with big production in Egypt. It sold a large part of its business there and the market responded in a very positive manner. The company also recently sold some Gulf of Mexico assets to Fieldwood Energy in a continuing move to raise cash and lower debt. The consensus price target for this top independent is $100. Investors are paid a small 0.9% dividend. Apache closed Tuesday at $86.47.

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Chevron Corp. (CVX) announced Tuesday that it secured a large liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal with Japan's Tohoku Electric for supplies from its $29 billion Australian Wheatstone LNG project for up to 20 years. The consensus price target for the company is posted at $135. The stock closed at $121.32.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is essentially a new company after spinning off its refining business. The new independent E&P company is earmarking 75% of capital expenditures to develop high return on investment plays, particularly shale plays in the United States. Besides possessing an incredible portfolio of oil assets, Conoco pays a strong dividend, and with production and margin growth, shareholders can continue to load up on this stable oil producer. The consensus price target for Conoco is $70, and investors are paid a 3.95% dividend. The stock closed at $70.04.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) has continued buying back stock at a lower, yet still very strong rate over the past year. While mired in a tight trading range, the stock still offers investors the safety of a huge integrated with resources that can fund almost any project it chooses. The consensus price target for the stock is pegged at $95. Investors are paid a 2.93% dividend. Exxon closed Tuesday at $86.

EOG Resources Inc. (EOG) was another stock touted Tuesday by Jim Cramer. He expects the company to be one of the winners as worldwide growth starts to resume over the next 18 months. The consensus price objective for this top independent is posted at $180. The stock closed yesterday at $172.15.

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Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) is a company with a stable capital investment program and higher operating efficiencies on the back of a strong financial position. In addition, steady production growth from the company’s diversified asset base located at different locations and scheduled progress at the Al Hosn gas project in Abu Dhabi are expected to act as catalysts to boost its future results. That combined with big finds in California and Texas make it a top stock to own. The consensus price target is $108. Investors are paid a 2.7% dividend. Occidental closed Tuesday at $94.39.

The big boys have a decided edge in the Permian Basin. They have the financial firepower to cover the costs associated with working in far West Texas. They also provide investors with the security of longevity and success. That bodes well for the future of a portfolio with these top names.

These Permian Basin companies are poised to increase American oil production significantly. Currently the number stands at about 7 million barrels per day. One way the United States may be able to fight out of its current economic malaise is to become a net exporter of energy, both oil and natural gas. With the possibility of over a billion barrels of oil in the region, new exporting may be a reality sooner rather than later.

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