This Oil Company's Transformation Should Excite You

It's a new year, and along with it, a new era for exploration and production giant Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN  ) . Devon has taken drastic steps to transform its organizational structure and has refocused its portfolio of assets, all with the stated goal of profiting from the domestic oil and gas boom. It's pursuing high-value opportunities in the best plays in the United States, a shrewd management strategy that places it in a great position in the years ahead.

Devon Energy: An oil and gas gusher in the making
Since 2008, Devon has nearly doubled its onshore North American oil production. In addition, Devon now produces about 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, the equivalent of more than 3% of all natural gas consumed in North America.

In all, Devon holds roughly 13 million net acres stretching across North America, a full two-thirds of which is undeveloped. That means Devon has a great opportunity in front of it in the middle of a true domestic energy revolution. It's capitalized on that opportunity, which is obvious from its recent performance. Devon increased its oil production by 38% in the third quarter, which management specifically attributed to its strong Permian Basin operations. Average production there hit a company record, 82,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day.

For comparison's sake
Devon's ability to acquire high-quality assets in the United States and generate strong production growth is a testament to management. Devon's performance stands above that of fellow independent exploration and production major ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP  ) . ConocoPhillips hopes to produce 1.6 million barrels of oil equivalents per day this year, which would represent just 7% growth. Perhaps not surprisingly, ConocoPhillips is allocating 39% of its 2014 capital budget to development drilling programs, with the goal of increasing domestic production to 600,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day by 2017.

Devon is already ahead of the pack, but it's by no means standing still. It's aggressively acquiring assets in top-producing regions of the country to keep its transformation going full steam ahead.

A refocused asset base
Devon Energy is restructuring itself to deeply focus on its core upstream activities. A major step in this combining its midstream assets with Crosstex Energy (NYSE: ENLC  ) to form a new midstream entity called EnLink Midstream Partners. This will allow greater flexibility for Devon Energy, since the new company will provide capital relief and a low cost of capital vehicle for Devon.

Going forward, the new Devon is plowing heavily into upstream exploration and production in the United States, a decision that couldn't come at a more opportune time. That's because the United States is in the midst of a modern-day gold rush in the form of its massive oil and gas reserves. Devon's transformation puts it in great place to profit from the American oil and gas boom.

For example, Devon acquired $6 billion worth of assets in the Eagle Ford development in November last year. There's good reason for why Devon would target the Eagle Ford formation, as it's one of only four regions in the United States to produce one million barrels of oil equivalents per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. These assets provide additional production capacity of 53,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day. This represents immediate 65% production growth, since Devon produced 81,000 barrels of oil per day in the U.S. in the third quarter.

Get excited about the new Devon
Devon Energy is drastically refocusing its efforts on exploration and production in the United States. Management is staking its claim in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford onshore plays, which are wise moves considering those are two of the top-producing fields in the United States. These initiatives are why management expects total oil production to grow 20% compounded annually over the next several years.

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Bob Ciura

Bob Ciura, MBA, has written for The Motley Fool since 2012. I focus on energy, consumer goods, and technology. I look for growth at a reasonable price, with a particular fondness for market-beating dividend yields.

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8/28/2015 4:01 PM
COP $46.82 Up +0.95 +2.07%
ConocoPhillips CAPS Rating: *****
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ENLC $23.75 Up +0.75 +3.26%
EnLink Midstream CAPS Rating: **