The Oil Patch Is Percolating

With two energy conferences underway this week, there is a gush of buzz from various petroleum poo-bahs. Many companies take their 25 minutes in the spotlight to dazzle analysts and money managers with increased production guidance, a new prospective resource play, or an exciting strategic shift.

Petrohawk Energy (NYSE: HK  ) announced that it has added to its Haynesville Shale acreage, which can only stoke investors' reported takeover hopes. Ever since Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) announced it had bagged another big one in Louisiana, neighbor Petrohawk has come to be viewed as prime acquisition material.

Apache (NYSE: APA  ) had a shale shocker of its own, with its exploration and production unit announcing a fresh estimate of 9 trillion to 16 trillion cubic feet of potential natural gas at its Ootla play in northeast British Columbia. This is the same terrain being tackled by Quicksilver Resources (NYSE: KWK  ) , Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN  ) , and others. Apache also appears to be making great strides in the land Down Under.

Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD  ) , however, may take the cake with its own sweeping announcement. The mid-sized company simultaneously raised its long-term production guidance, significantly hiked its total estimated resource potential, and unveiled a new shale play.

Part of the outlook "oomph" is because of enhanced recovery prospects at the West Texas Spraberry field, one of our country's great historical producers. Pioneer sees about 1 billion barrels of potential upside in addition to currently booked reserves.

The Pierre Shale play is intriguing as well, partly because the gas lies at a shallow depth. The target also happens to directly underlie Pioneer's coal bed methane play in Colorado. This means that the infrastructure is already in place to pipe the gas away.

So what did all this news bring Pioneer? A sub-3% pop in the share price. Curious Fools may want to take a closer look at this name, in case the market's overlooking a potential outperformer.

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