Like most of you, I have my own thoughts about the formation of our universe. But in the interest of not getting too heavy here, I'll only say I think it's amazing that so many of the world's hydrocarbon reserves found their way beneath places that are unbelievably remote or politically unstable -- or both. And I think that truism is more than just an interesting geological tidbit. Indeed, I believe it has serious investment implications for Fools in search of energy investment ideas.

Let's start with The Wall Street Journal's description Tuesday of French oil company Total's (NYSE:TOT) efforts to stem a slide in its oil and gas production by placing big bets in Africa. With about a third of its exploration and production investments now going to that continent, the company over time has become involved in places like Nigeria and Angola, where its operations have been conducted in the face of raging civil wars. It's also active in Gabon and Cameroon, all despite a contention in the Journal's piece that "[m]any in the [energy] industry think mounting political and social problems will make oil production in Africa more difficult."

For now, Total is a relatively close second to ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) as an energy producer in Africa. The latter company's worldwide forays also cover most of the globe's producing horizons, including Russia's remote Sakhalin Island. On and around that 500-mile-long plot to the nation's east, Exxon is being forced to contend with hellish conditions, severe technological demands, and progressively higher government-imposed tax demands. But it is succeeding and setting drilling records near where Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-B) (NYSE:RDS-A) -- which was a major factor in Russia as far back as that nation's 1917 revolution -- has been far less successful.

But Africa and Russia are far from the only places where "mounting political ... problems will make oil production ... more difficult." Venezuela, for instance, is just the latest example of a place where private oil companies have invested considerable sums to build an energy infrastructure, only to be ousted by government-imposed nationalization mandates. In fact, Venezuela's recent caper, which has involved showing the gate to such major oil operators as ExxonMobil, Chevron (NYSE:CVX), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), and Italy's Eni (NYSE:E), follows similar programs over the years in places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Libya.

What is the message here for Foolish investors? I believe that it's highly appropriate for investors, given the increasing need for energy companies to search for oil and gas in all manner of dicey locations, to include in their portfolios major companies with the resources to conduct those far-flung operations. I'm speaking here of any of the companies mentioned above, since I believe that those companies will play major roles in maximizing the world's production of oil and gas in the years ahead.

For related Foolishness:

Total is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.