Europe's biggest member of Big Oil, Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) (NYSE:RDS-B) -- like its peers -- has gotten the act of operating simultaneously on a host of fronts down to a science.

For starters, working in partnership with Norway's StatoilHydro (NYSE:STO), the company has discovered a big new natural gas field in the Norwegian Sea. The discovery, which has been named Gro, is estimated by Norwegian petroleum authorities to contain reserves between 10 billion and 100 billion cubic meters. That admittedly wide range means that it could be Norway's largest such discovery in the past dozen years. It was in 1997 that the huge 400-billion-cubic-meter Ormen Lange field was discovered.

But the world isn't completely hunky-dory for Shell. In Nigeria, it's recently been beset by a series of attacks on its facilities by members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). During the past several years, MEND has attacked the operations of several oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM). In its latest adventure, Shell suffered three such events in one 24-hour period.

And then there's offshore Brazil, where, as Foolish energy fans know, the state oil company, Petrobras (NYSE:PBR), has made a number of big oil discoveries in the deepwater Santos Basin, including the giant Tupi field. Further, Exxon and Hess (NYSE:HES) announced a sizable find there earlier this year.

But a well just drilled by the same pair apparently hasn't shown oil or gas, perhaps taking some of the bloom off this energy rose. And while Exxon continues to study the results, Shell, which also has leases in the area, must be paying rapt attention, along with the likes of Spain's Repsol (NYSE:REP), also a major leaseholder in the basin.  

Finally, we're barreling in on decision time in energy-rich Iraq, where 35 oil companies, including Shell and Exxon, are after the opportunity to develop six big oil fields and a pair of gas fields. The highly awaited decisions are expected early next week.

For now, I'd look to give Shell a somewhat wide berth for investment purposes. I believe you would be better served resting your gaze on the second-biggest of Europe's Big Oil contingent, BP (NYSE:BP), which is coming on strong and starts you off with a yield above 7%.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, welcome your questions or comments. Petroleo Brasileiro and StatoilHydro ASA are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a rock-solid disclosure policy.