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3 Reasons to Buy Oasis Petroleum in 2014

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Darn, I missed it!

I think that's how a lot of energy investors feel about the Bakken stocks like Oasis Petroleum  (NYSE: OAS  ) . New applications of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unlocked vast quantities of hydrocarbons, and this has richly rewarded investors who got in on the ground floor. 

But the North Dakota oil boom is far from over. In fact, we may still be in the early innings of this development, and plenty of catalysts could send Oasis shares higher in 2014. Here are three reasons to add it to your portfolio. 

1) The smart money is moving in
In high school, you got in trouble for looking at the tests of the smartest students in the class. But in investing, peeking over the shoulder of the world's smartest investors is usually a good idea. 

And lots of smart money is moving into Oasis. According to recent SEC filings, billionaire Ken Griffin of Citadel Investments increased his stake in the company last quarter by 35% to $141 million. 

Billionaire John Paulson, famous for predicting the U.S. sub-prime mortgage meltdown, is also bullish on Oasis' prospects. Last quarter SEC filings indicated that his hedge fund Paulson & Co. initiated a new position in Oasis worth $39 million. Other legendary hedge fund managers like Paul Tudor Jones, Jim Simons, and Steven Cohen also own sizable stakes in the company. 

2) The company is posting great financial results
Oasis is posting some incredible numbers. According to the company's preliminary financial results for 2013, Oasis grew its average daily production 51% year over year to 33,904 barrels of oil equivalent per day, up from 22,469 Boepd in 2012. The firm also increased total estimated net proved oil and natural gas reserves to 227.9 million barrels of oil equivalent, up 59% year over year.  

And while those figures are impressive, more of that top-line revenue is starting to trickle down to the bottom line. In the past year Oasis has reduced its average well completion costs by 12% to $7.9 million per well. Thanks to the transition to pad drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and other operational efficiencies, management expects to shave another $400,000 off that figure by the end of 2014. 

And all of this translates into big cost savings for Oasis. When you multiply that $400,000 figure across the 106 net wells the company expects to drill this year, Oasis will pocket an additional $42.4 million in 2014. It's still a long way from closing the firm's funding gap, but savings will have a big impact on the firm's free cash flow. 

3) The company has plenty of emerging catalysts in 2014
Yet the Bakken might just be the beginning for Oasis. According to the latest United States Geological Survey, the Three Forks could contain an estimated 3.7 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable crude oil -- slightly larger than the Bakken that lies above it. 

Drilling results coming out of the lower Three Forks have been positive. Continental Resources  (NYSE: CLR  )  has been delineating its Three Forks acreage. Pilot wells in the play's second and third benches have averaged initial production rates between 1,200 and 910 boepd respectively. 

This summer Kodiak Oil and Gas (NYSE: KOG  )  also completed six pilot wells with 30-day initial production rates between 1,200 and 3,500 boepd. And although these figures definitely suggest that the Three Forks is viable, management has warned more testing is needed. 

As Oasis and rivals de-risk their Three Forks position, it will be a big boost to the company's reserves in 2014 and a new source of production growth for 2015 and beyond. That could be a covert catalyst for the stock. 

Foolish bottom line
Investors who have watched the Bakken boom from the sidelines shouldn't worry. The recent sell-off in light oil producers has created some bargains, and Oasis Petroleum, in particular, has plenty of catalysts that could drive its share price higher in 2014.

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Robert Baillieul

Covering the intersection between the oil patch and Wall Street. Twitter @RobertBaillieul.

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8/28/2015 4:02 PM
CLR $30.88 Up +1.26 +4.25%
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OAS $9.99 Up +0.52 +5.49%
Oasis Petroleum CAPS Rating: ***