Forbes recently published an interesting article detailing the 10 biggest oil and gas finds of 2013. The article noted that it was a fairly down year for the industry, as energy companies didn't find any truly massive discoveries of 1 billion barrels of oil or more. Even more concerning is that one estimate suggests energy companies in total only found 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent, or BOE, while we consumed 50 billion BOE.
That said, some companies had a very good year. Let's take a brief look at the top 10 finds of 2013 and what these discoveries mean for investors.
No. 1: Agulha/Coral gas discoveries offshore Mozambique
Discovered by Italian oil giant Eni, these are estimated to hold 700 million BOE each. According to Eni, these primarily natural gas discoveries hold 5 trillion-7 trillion cubic feet of gas in place. To get an idea of how big that find is, 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is enough to fuel 5 million American homes for 15 years.
That gas won't come to America, though. Instead, Eni is working with Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) to build a massive LNG export project to ship this gas to Asia. Overall, Anadarko and its partners have discovered as much as 65 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas in Mozambique. More discoveries are likely as Eni is planning to drill four more wells in 2014.
No. 2: Lontra discovery in Angola
Discovered by Cobalt International Energy (NYSE:CIE) and partners including BP (NYSE:BP), Lontra is estimated at 900 million BOE, though it did contain more natural gas than was expected.
Angola is emerging as an important offshore basin. Companies such as ConocoPhillips and Statoil (NYSE:STO) see a bright future in the region, which is why the industry is planning to invest more than $3 billion there next year. Investors should expect to hear more about Angola going forward.
No. 3: B14/B17 gas discoveries in Malaysia
This Newfield Exploration (NYSE:NFX), discovery is estimated at 850 million BOE. It was the largest discovery ever for Newfield Exploration. However, the company decided to sell the find, along with the rest of its Malaysian assets, a few months later as part of its decision to focus all attention on U.S. onshore growth. That said, investors aren't exactly thrilled with Newfield Exploration's three-year growth plan, especially when companies including ConocoPhillips see Malaysia fueling strong margin growth over the next few years.
No. 4: Ogo discovery in Nigeria
Afren and Lekoil's giant oil find is estimated to contain 775 million BOE. According to UBS, this is one of the most important oil discoveries made in West Africa in recent history.
No. 5: Nene Marine discovery in Congo Brazzaville
Another Eni find, this oil rich discovery is estimated at 700 million BOE. Eni sees the potential for more upside as it continues to evaluate the find.
No. 6: Tangawizi gas discovery offshore Tanzania
Discovered by Norway's Statoil and ExxonMobil, the gas rich resource is estimated at 575 million BOE. Statoil made three high-impact discoveries in Tanzania last year. These massive gas discoveries make it highly likely that the companies will eventually move forward with an LNG export project in the country.
No. 7: Coronado oil discovery in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
Discovered by Chevron (NYSE: CVX), ConocoPhillips, Anadarko, and other partners, the oil rich Coronado contains an estimated 550 million BOE. Drilled to depths of more than six miles, this is one of the deepest wells ever drilled.
That said, Coronado might not be the biggest discovery in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Shenandoah, which was found by ConocoPhillips and Anadarko, might be an even bigger find. Thanks to these and other finds, 2013 was a great year for ConocoPhillips in the Gulf of Mexico.
No. 8: Salamat gas discovery in Egypt's East Nile Delta
This gas rich BP discovery is estimated at 500 million BOE. Thanks to this find and others, BP had one of its best years for oil and gas discoveries in more than a decade. What's remarkable is that its terrific year happened even though the company was only successful on 40% of its exploration wells. Drilling dry holes is a huge risk that investors must always be aware of when investing in companies drilling offshore.
No. 9: Maximino oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico
Discovered by Mexico's Pemex, the oil rich Maximino contains an estimated 500 million BOE. The ultra-deepwater find was made on the Mexican side of the Gulf.
No. 10: Bay du Nord discovery offshore eastern Canada
Found by Statoil and Canada's Husky Energy, this massive oil discovery off the Atlantic coast is estimated at 450 million BOE, though some estimates suggest as much as 600 million BOE. This is the partners' third discovery in the region, which is why Statoil sees eastern Canada being a big growth area over the next decade.
Oil and gas companies need to keep finding oil in order to fuel our world's energy needs. Not only that, but the more oil these companies can find, the less the world needs to rely on OPEC to fuel our future. That means investors can profit from the world's oil instead of OPEC.
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Fool contributor Matt DiLallo owns shares of ConocoPhillips. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron and Statoil (ADR). 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.