The Breathe-Easy E&P

Whereas current conditions have forced dramatic changes to some oil and gas players' plans, EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG  ) hardly needs to readjust at all.

The Houston-headquartered E&P is still on track to meet its 15% production growth target for the year. The firm's high rate of return plays such as the Bakken and the Barnett still look plenty profitable at these lower commodity levels, and the balance sheet is so clean you could eat off of it. I'm not saying you should, but you could.

A few more words on the Bakken are due here, given that about 40% of next year's North American capital budget is directed toward oil projects. At $65 oil, the core area of the Bakken -- namely EOG's Parshall field -- still generates over a 100% after-tax rate of return. Such returns, undoubtedly the envy of other Bakken players like Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR  ) and Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO  ) , are tough to beat with a natural gas play at $7.

This is why EOG said quite clearly on its conference call that they "don't intend to dramatically grow North American gas volume at prices below $8." The company sees no merit in accelerating natural gas delivery into an oversupplied market, which is what $7 (per thousand cubic feet) gas prices signal. Like madcap monetizer Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) , EOG appears to view $8 to $10 as a reasonable long-term price band for its product.

In case you're not so familiar with EOG, it's a company that grows from within. You don't achieve a rock-bottom 10% net debt to capitalization ratio by pursuing an acquire-and-exploit model a la XTO Energy (NYSE: XTO  ) . The acquisitive companies may have longer reserve lives in some cases, but EOG's 15-year inventory is pretty comfortable -- especially since the company keeps unveiling new grassroots projects, such as the Barnett oil play.

If your energy holdings make you hyperventilate, consider EOG -- the breathe-easy E&P.

EOG is rated four stars in Motley Fool CAPS. If you think this company is five-star material, then you'll have to click over here and pick it to outperform.

Chesapeake is an Inside Value selection. Check out any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Toby Shute is active in CAPS under the name TMFSmashy, but he doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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