Earlier this year, the Fraser Institute disseminated its Global Petroleum survey to managers and executives of exploration and production companies around the world. The responses came in, and with them a wealth of information. Today I'll take a look at the survey's results for the five best places on Earth for oil and gas investments.
This is Canada's only province in the top five, surprising giving Alberta's prominent role in developing oil sands (that province ranked 21st in the survey). But Manitoba has a booming energy business as well, and as the survey results pointed out, the government has recently begun focusing on attracting investment.
Manitoba borders North Dakota and thus reaps the benefits of shale oil, just like its American neighbor. In 2011, the province produced a record 14.8 million barrels of oil, topping the previous record of 11.7 million from the year before. The largest producer in Manitoba is a privately held Canadian company called Tundra Oil & Gas, which generates about 40% of the province's oil production.
4. North Dakota
Production in North Dakota has been on a tear, and the state recently surpassed Alaska and California and now ranks second among all U.S. states in oil production. The most recent numbers show that oil production in the state reached 674,000 barrels per day in July. Oil production has increased since last April, and output has doubled since last May.
Most of the production is coming from the state's shale oil plays, specifically the Bakken Shale. Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR ) is the top leaseholder in the Bakken and the top producing outfit in the Williston Basin. The company averages 100,000 barrels per day and has increased its reserves by 20%, which just outpaces the 19% growth of its share price this year.
Texas is the country's top oil-producing state, and there are an awful lot of energy companies headquartered in Houston. Aside from its powerful refining sector on the Gulf Coast, the state is also home to the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford, two of the hottest oil plays in the country right now.
Survey respondents were keen on Texas because of the lack of obstacles in its regulatory environment and its "good infrastructure and support services."
Mississippi is a bit of a sleeper on this list. Often playing second fiddle in the media to its Gulf Coast neighbors, the state actually has a substantial energy business.
Mississippi is part of the Gulf Coast's big refining business. In fact, Chevron's (NYSE: CVX ) Pascagoula refinery is one of the top 10 largest refineries in the United States, processing 330,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
But perhaps most important in the eyes of E&Ps is that there have been new oil and gas deposits discovered in recent years that point to a high energy future for Mississippi.
First overall, Oklahoma also ranked first in the survey's commercial environment index, meaning that respondents found it the best place to invest when considering six specific factors: fiscal terms, taxation regime, trade barriers, quality of infrastructure, labor availability, and corruption.
Oklahoma is home to the Mississippi Lime oil and gas play, a low-cost, high-return dream come true for E&Ps. The biggest player in the Lime right now is Sand Ridge Energy (NYSE: SD ) , which plans to drill 380 wells in the lime by the end of this year. Success begets success, and investors looking to cash in on Sand Ridge and Oklahoma should also consider Plains All American Pipeline (NYSE: PAA ) . The midstream outfit is in the process of constructing a 170-mile pipeline to carry Sand Ridge's oil from the Lime to the industry hub at Cushing, Okla.
This is a global list, but the geopolitical risk is so low in North America, and the reward is so high, thast you can't blame E&P outfits for loving it here. Fools fixated on that No. 1 spot should consider our brand-new premium report on SandRidge. It looks at all sides of one of the most compelling energy plays right now, and you can grab your copy, which comes with free updates for 12 months.