1,000 Places to Drill

1,000 Places to Drill

There are lots of places to drill in the Mississippi Lime to find liquid oil, and Devon Energy is utilizing new strategies to find as much oil as it can.

1,000 ways to profit
Devon sees 1,000 potential places to drill in the area, and that number is growing. As Devon starts utilizing more 3D seismic imaging to find places to drill, Devon's drilling inventory and reserves could increase. This would make its growth runway in the play longer and push up growth further.

Devon has seen over 100% production growth in the area since March (as of the end of June), which has pushed production up to 7,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. Devon sees production rising even higher by the end of 2013 with 350 planned well completions. This is made possible by Devon operating 15 rigs in the area with an average well completion time of 12 days per well.

Devon has high hopes for the Mississippi Lime play, and investors should too: 3D seismic imaging could increase the growth runway as numerous wells come online by the end of 2013.

Devon has been heavily focusing on North America, and more specifically on North American shale plays. This focus has enabled Devon to boost its production from the region to 169-173 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day by the end of 2013, up from 66 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2006.

Devon doesn't put all its eggs in one basket, however. It's also invested in another play, the Permian Basin.

Texas, the land of opportunity
The Permian Basin, located in Texas, offers amazing growth potential. Devon is a major land holder in the Basin with 1.3 million net acres in the play. This huge position has given Devon over 8,000 possible locations to drill with 2.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent in recoverable reserves for Devon to extract.

Devon sees the potential of this field and has plans to complete 300 wells in 2013 with 27 rigs operating in the area. This will enable Devon to meet its guidance to boost production in the area by 40% in 2013.

Devon is worth considering because of the numerous shale plays that offer long growth runways for years to come. Onshore North American oil production will keep increasing for years to come, allowing Devon to invest the additional cash flow right back into its business.

Another play that offers similar growth potential is the iconic Bakken up in North Dakota, and Marathon Oil keeps raising production estimates in the area every year.

A little bit more, and a little bit more, and BOOM
In 2009, Marathon saw Bakken production peaking in 2014 and then slowly declining. By 2012, Marathon saw 2014 as the time when production would take off and start significantly increasing. Now, in 2013, Marathon sees this as the year of booming production and has forecasted growth increases all the way through 2018.

This is a very good sign and has been aided by increasing 30-day production levels. In 2008 Marathon's average 30-day production level was around 150 barrels per day in the play. That average has increased by 500% since then to about 850 barrels per day.

This boom in output allows Marathon to make the most out of each well. Further production growth could come from Marathon using only multi-pad drilling going forward and testing the deeper benches of the play.

Marathon sees plenty of potential in the Bakken, and investors should too as Marathon plans on increasing its investment in the play while utilizing better drilling techniques to maximize output.

Kodiak signs
Kodiak Oil and Gas is a pure Bakken play that has experienced triple-digit production growth each year for the past few years due to increased levels of drilling.

In the fourth quarter 2012 conference call, management guided to drill 61 net wells in the Bakken for 2013. As of now, management is guiding for 100 net well completions. As such, Kodiak's capital expenditure budget increased from $600 million to $1 billion.

This is very promising because higher levels of oil output (Kodiak's production is 94% oil) result in larger cash flows, which enables the company to invest more back into the business.

Kodiak was producing 18,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the fourth quarter of 2012, which was 150% higher than its 2011 output. For the end of 2013, Kodiak forecasts that it will produce between 30,000-34,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. This explosive growth is why Kodiak is worth investors' attention as it has 196,000 net acres to drill and keeps completing more wells each year while significantly lowering its well completion costs (from $11.5 million to $10 million.)

Final thoughts
Some investors think that tech or biotech stocks are the only way to find companies growing at double or triple digit rates, but that's not the case. Shale plays offer huge growth potential if you know where to look. As long as E&P players have places to drill, growth keeps coming and investors are happily rewarded.

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The article 1,000 Places to Drill originally appeared on Fool.com.

Callum Turcan owns shares of Kodiak. The Motley Fool owns shares of Devon Energy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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