Anadarko Petroleum's Strategic Settlement

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The Gulf of Mexico oil-spill saga is finally reaching a settlement of sorts. After 18 months of haggling and legal tussles, Anadarko Petroleum (NYS: APC) has agreed to pay $4 billion to BP (NYS: BP) for its stake of 25% in the tragic well. But is it a loss for Anadarko? I don't think so.

Pretty intriguing
Despite the incident, the Texas-based company made sure that its business remained fundamentally sound. A couple of months back, I mentioned the company's growing prospects following a fantastic second quarter. And now, by consenting to pay $4 billion, the company has the monkey off its back that had kept investors lying low.

Anadarko's share price did see pre-crisis levels early this year after a 50% wipeout following the incident. However, nothing really deterred management from pursuing a sound business strategy. Record liquids sales and expanding international operations backed by some hugely potential projects in the Gulf make me bullish on growth. I have a strong feeling that share prices have never really reflected the company's performance in the past 12 months.

But why all of a sudden?
So what made Anadarko relent after 18 months? Transocean (NYS: RIG) and Halliburton (NYS: HAL) -- the more responsible partners in the well blowout -- are yet to accept their roles. Yet a non-operating partner has responded by shelling out $4 billion, which even required raising funds using a $5 billion credit line. And again, it seems investors have let out a sigh of relief by pushing up the stock nearly 6% following the arrangement. Is something else brewing in the background?

The answer might lie in the Gulf of Mexico.

No pain, no gain
Deepwater exploration figures right at the top of management's current scheme of things. The Gulf holds more oil than what most people are assuming there will be. Management expects to find more than half a billion barrels of oil buried here.

Anadarko has already signed long-term contracts with Diamond Offshore (NYS: DO) to build two drill-ships in the region. With highly successful well tests already conducted, it's just a matter of receiving a sanction, which is expected later this year.

Foolish bottom line
Management is surely anticipating something big later this year. Investors should be on the lookout for a pop in Anadarko's shares. With the company's third-quarter earnings due in a couple of weeks, the settlement seems to have come at the right time. Fools, keep your fingers crossed. If you're looking for other great stocks to profit off the energy boom, check out The Motley Fool's special report, "3 Stocks for $100 Oil." You can download it for free.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Isac Simon owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article.The Motley Fool owns shares of Transocean. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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