Why Statoil Stands to Gain from Brazil

Who wouldn't want to grab rare opportunities? That's what global oil exploration companies are looking to seize with both hands. Norway's Statoil (NYSE: STO  ) and France's Total, along with Denmark's Maersk Oil are lining up to bid for some of the most mouth-watering reserves in the global exploration scene today.

The Campos Basin discovery off the Brazilian coast is arguably the best thing to have happened after soccer for that country, and my gut feeling tells me that this could be the start of something big.

The news
Independent E&P company, Anadarko Petroleum has been looking to dispose of its Brazilian operations with a view to possibly finance its $4 billion settlement with BP for its part in the Gulf of Mexico disaster. However, if Statoil comes out trumps in the sale, it'll be a big step in the company's quest to become global in the truest sense of the word.

With Anadarko's Brazilian assets valued at more than $3 billion, this will be a significant deal for the Norwegian giant. Already, the company owns assets worth $6.4 billion in the country, which means a 50% increase in stake, indicating the premium management is willing to put into these reserves.

But what's so great about it?
The Campos Basin currently accounts for 85% of Brazil's crude oil production. However, a year ago, a university study by a former Petrobras (NYSE: PBR  ) employee showed that reserves in Brazil have been underestimated. Deposits beneath a salt layer in the Atlantic Ocean is estimated to hold at least 123 billion barrels of oil and natural gas -- more than double the government's estimates of 50 billion barrels.  Reserves below the salt basin have been grossly underestimated.

Secondly, the success rate associated with actual extraction of crude oil has been phenomenal. While the industry average across the globe is around 20% to 25%, the success rate of these fields is a whopping 87%.          

No one can survive alone
Not surprisingly, lawmakers in Brazil have passed a bill that gives the state-owned Petrobras initial rights to explore new strategic areas. But that will definitely be a tall order for any single company to fulfill. Analysts believe that Petrobras' major deepwater exploration and production projects are too big for it to handle by itself. The Brazilian government might realize that soon enough, given the rapidly growing economy and rising inflation. With more than half the discoveries yet to be auctioned off, I believe foreign players such as Statoil and Total should stand to gain.

Statoil shouldn't find it difficult to go ahead with the deal since it had already acquired Anadarko's 50% stake in the Peregrino offshore heavy-oil field for $1.8 billion in 2008 -- again in the Campos Basin.

Foolish bottom line
Right now it's mere speculation. But Statoil's latest move, following its acquisitions in the U.S. shale plays, in diversifying and strengthening its reach is commendable. To stay up to speed on the top news and analysis on Statoil, you can start here by adding the company to your Watchlist.

But, if you are looking for more ideas, check out The Motley Fool's latest special report to discover our top stock pick for 2012. The report is free, but it won't be available for long, so get your copy now.

Fool contributor Isac Simon does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Petroleo Brasileiro and Statoil A. 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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