As has been the case for some time now, third-quarter results from independent oil and gas producers have effectively catapulted EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) to the top position in the group. I make that perhaps hyperbolic-sounding comment while fully acknowledging sound performances from such similarly sized companies as Apache Corp. (NASDAQ:APA) and Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC).

For the quarter, with commodities prices lower than a year ago, the company reported third-quarter net income of $356 million, or $1.31 per share, a price-driven decrease from the $541 million, or $2.01 a share for the comparable quarter a year ago. Without items, however, the company's per-share line came to $1.73, creating a vast expanse above the $1.12 that the analysts who follow the company had collectively expected.

Where's it working?
Clearly, in the U.S., EOG benefits from its concentration in the more productive liquids-prone locations. As you likely recall, its domestic operations occur in South Texas' Eagle Ford play, the progressively more productive Bakken and Three Forks formations of the Williston Basin, primarily in North Dakota, and the Permian Basin of southwest Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Beyond that, you can find the company's rigs turning bits to the right in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and in Colorado's Denver-Julesburg Basin.

That's not to say that EOG has completely avoided the domestic unconventional plays that are more prone to dry gas. Indeed, it currently conducts operations in the Haynesville Shale in Texas and Louisiana and the Marcellus Shale, which covers much of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Further north, the company owns a 30% interest in the Kitimat LNG export facility in British Columbia, Canada, and for those of its employees desirous of warmer climes, it is busy in the Columbus Basin in proximity to Trinidad & Tobago. Farther south yet, it is figuratively dipping its toe in the water in Argentina's Neuguen Basin, and it owns the entirety of a stake in a new operation in the East Irish Sea.

How's it doing?
One key to the company's success was evident with EOG's disclosure of its quarterly results:

EOG exceeded its third quarter crude oil and condensate production forecasts by continuing to modify completion techniques in its South Texas Eagle Ford; North Dakota Bakken and Three Forks; and Permian Basin Wolfcamp and Leonard Plays. In North America, crude oil production increased 45% in the third quarter and 51% for the first nine months of 2012 over prior year periods. Total North American liquids (crude oil, condensate, and natural gas liquids) production increased 42% for the third quarter ...

As an appropriate summary statement, management continued by noting that: "Simply put, EOG's excellent third quarter performance reflects the success of our groundwork. Over the last few years, we captured the best crude oil acreage in the United Sates. Now we are executing a development program that has exceeded our initial expectations. "

Winning with an eagle
Focusing on the Eagle Ford as but one example of the company's several successes, I'll quote EOG's CEO Mark Papa, who said on his company's post-earnings call: "... [During] the August call, I may have caused a flurry of comments among sell-siders when I mentioned that during the second quarter, we completed 16 monster wells, which I defined as having IP's between 2,500 and 4,800 barrels of oil per day plus NGL's."

But what initially sounded like the introduction to a correction was not to be so. Indeed, Papa continued by saying: "During the third quarter, we added 12 additional monster wells ... We have 100% working interests in 10 of 12 of these monster wells ..."

Finally, in addition to, or perhaps because of, its tremendous success in acquiring and developing U.S. liquids-prone plays, EOG may be in the sights of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), which is thought by some to be in the early stages of a shopping spree. To my way of thinking, and given its muscular balance sheet, it's also not beyond the realm of possibility that Chevron (NYSE:CVX) could also embark on some shopping of its own and that EOG could be on the list of the California-based company.

Those possibilities bear watching, but so does EOG in its own right. For that reason, I simply urge Fools to add the successful company to My Watchlist.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.