If you cannot stomach the roller-coaster ride of a volatile energy stock and yet would like to have exposure to an industry that is likely to be popular for the rest of our earthly lives, then you may want to take a serious look at this stock.

A dynamic and consistent energy player
Apart from a brief lull, Penn West Energy (NYSE: PWE) has been consistently outperforming the market for the past two years. With a solid business model and proven reserves, the company converted from an income trust into an exploration and production (E&P) company last month; I imagine in order to better fuel its own promising growth. Penn West has a strong asset base with a diversified portfolio and is well-positioned to create long-term value for shareholders, which is also reflected in its balance sheet. As if that weren’t gravy enough, growth is accelerating.

What I see in Penn West
With land holdings totaling an astounding 7 million acres, Penn West has exposure to nearly every major resource play in western Canada. Considering Canada’s status as one of the world’s largest natural gas producers, Penn West’s entitlement to vast portions of this oil-rich region is downright sexy. In addition, the company has a portfolio of properties spread across the western Canada sedimentary basin.

Penn West’s larger production base includes natural gas, natural-gas liquids, and conventional oils, making it quite diverse for a relatively small-scale energy company. Spreading the production over a diverse portfolio reduces the risk of an imminent slowdown in growth, which as far as defensive characteristics is a great one. To me, that growth plus diversity is a solid play.

For those who delight in details: Proven and probable reserves consist of approximately 687 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). Penn has done remarkably well compared to competing companies of comparable market caps, like EnCana Corp. (NYSE: ECA) and Advantage Oil & Gas (NYSE: AAV). My guess is that it’s a play that’s definitely worth the risk.

The Foolish bottom line
For those who are not really into considerable risk-taking, Penn is a much more attractive stock to invest in -- in a larger industry that’s very attractive. This stock might not give you abnormally high returns, but it is definitely a safe bet. Maybe it can even be considered as a retirement stock. The wonderful thing is that the company’s overall growth is not largely dependent on hugely volatile oil prices. As we all know, it pays to be Foolish when investing in oil and gas companies.

Isac Simon doesn’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in the article. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.