Houston-based Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) is an oil and natural gas energy company with operations spanning the globe. The company has grown from a regional oil and gas producer to a global organization included in the S&P 500Its business, from the very beginning, has been to locate oil and natural gas and develop them into operational wells. It has primarily been an offshore driller, with much of its production coming from the Gulf of Mexico. However, in recent years, the company has announced onshore plays, everywhere from Colorado to the Permian Basin. 

Noble, along with the rest of the energy industry, has had a rough few years amid a downturn in energy prices: 

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Market Capitalization $12.5 billion
52-Week High $42.03
52-Week Low $22.99

Data source: Noble Energy.

Read on for a history of the company and how its past has laid the groundwork for where it is today.

An offshore drilling leader

The company traces its roots all the way back to 1932, when Lloyd Noble founded Samedan Oil Corporation in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The company operated as an onshore exploration and development company until, in a sign of greater things to come, it acquired its first offshore reserve block in the Gulf of Mexico in 1968. 

Oil rigs at sunset.

Image source: Getty Images.

In 1969, the current company was established through the merger of several companies including Samedan, and it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 1980. Its reserves, located in the U.S. and abroad, consist of a mix of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. It has historically focused on both unconventional U.S. basins, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, and global basins in the Mediterranean and Africa offshore.

While the company's stock has suffered in recent years, it continues to announce expansionary initiatives -- including continued investments to bring its huge Leviathan natural gas field to operation status, as well as its recent acquisition of Clayton Williams Energy.

Approximately 75% of Noble's 2017 capital-spending plans has been allocated to U.S. onshore growth. Like many of its peers, it has begun acquiring assets in the Delaware Basin and Eagle Ford shale region. Mediterranean capex, primarily the company's Leviathan field, represents another 20% of the total. The balance comes from a few ancillary properties in places such as West Africa, the North Sea, and China, as well as from the company's midstream assets.

Recent events

There's been no escape from the current downturn in energy prices for oil producers. But Noble has held up better than most, expanding while many competitors are selling assets or even closing up shop. The largest recent example of its offense-minded strategy is its acquisition of Clayton Williams Energy for $2.5 billion in cash and stock. The move makes Noble a major producer in the low-cost Delaware Basin.

The company reported decent results in its latest quarter, ended June 30. Revenue came in at $1.017 billion, up from $823 million a year ago. A net loss of $1.5 billion was also reported, but that includes a $2.3 billion loss from the sale of its Marcellus shale upstream assets.

Noble Energy investors should be aware of what may be the oil company's crown jewel: the Leviathan Field, located offshore from Israel. The company has a major stake in this field and expects it to be a significant contributor to the bottom line when it begins production by the end of 2019. As of the end of June, Noble recorded proven undeveloped reserves of 551 million barrels of oil equivalent, net, for the field. As of Dec. 31, Noble had total reserves of 1.437 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Leviathan, at 38% of that total, is more than appropriately named.

The bottom line for Noble Energy Stock

Noble Energy stock, along with much of the sector, has had a rough few years. As an oil and gas producer, its fate is tied to energy prices. However, what's evident from its history is that there is cause to be optimistic about its future. Noble is also now a major player in the white-hot Delaware Basin, thanks to its Clayton Williams acquisition, and its Leviathan field will begin producing in just a couple of years. These exciting initiatives make Noble Energy stock a compelling investment for those willing to accept the risks inherent with any commodity producer.

Sean O'Reilly has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.