It's now been about two years since Brazil announced the first of its big oil discoveries in the deep waters of its Santos Basin. Since then, the country has been a hotbed of energy activity, and Petrobras (NYSE:PBR), its state oil company, has brought gleams to the eyes of more than a few energy investors.

As you know, the Tupi oil field lies in deep waters and beneath several thousand feet of salt. Nevertheless, it's expected to contain between 5 billion and 8 billion barrels of oil. But there are a couple of things you need to know about Tupi and Petrobras: First, Tupi is likely part of a bigger oil province in the basin that could contain far more oil and gas than Tupi represents. And second -- especially with crude prices considerably higher than they were just 90 days ago -- if you have an interest in investing in energy and maybe specifically in Brazil's oil boom, there are ways to do so besides Petrobras.

First, oilfield services
Let's take a look at some other companies that are active in Brazil, all of which will give you some geographic diversity in the unlikely event that the Santos Basin proves to be a flash in the pan. We'll start with some of the oilfield services companies that are participating in this big new play.

 

Market Cap.

Forward P/E

Forward Yield

Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO)

$10.7B

8.0

0.70%

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL)

$19.6B

17.4

1.70%

Transocean (NYSE:RIG)

$22.9B

5.7

N/A

Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB)

$64.0B

21.9

1.60%

Source: Yahoo! Finance intraday on May 19, 2009.

You'll notice that our list includes the two deepwater drilling contractors, Diamond Offshore and Transocean, along with the two biggest oilfield services companies, Schlumberger and Halliburton. Admittedly, the service sector is out of favor with some folks, but for investors who are able to stretch their investment time horizons, I'm a believer that the group could provide some major surprises.

There are also concerns that the supply of ultra-deepwater rigs may be insufficient to meet ultimate demand in the Santos Basin. It appears that Petrobras alone may double its rig usage to near 70 units in the next three years. Beyond that the successes other companies are experiencing in the area will further boost rig demand.

Way down
Diamond Offshore operates about 45 rigs; two-thirds of them are semisubmersibles, which are capable of drilling in deeper waters -- sometimes up to 10,000 feet -- than their jack-up siblings. About a third of the company's rigs are in Brazil, most working for Petrobras. The company also has rigs operating in a host of other locations around the world.

Transocean is easily the largest of the offshore drilling contractor contingent. Of the company's 136 rigs, 11 are currently in Brazil and 18 members of its fleet are capable of drilling in water depths exceeding 7,500 feet. Both Diamond and Transocean are trading at around half of their 52-week highs.

If you've spent any time looking at the oil patch, you're familiar with Schlumberger and Halliburton. The table above indicates the extent to which Schlumberger dwarfs even Halliburton, the second-largest company in the industry. Both companies operate through two units.

At Schlumberger, its oilfield services group generates about 90% of revenues. The smaller WesternGeco is primarily involved in seismic activities. Halliburton has an avowed desire to increase its Latin American presence, while Schlumberger recently signed a contract with Petrobras to study sub-salt formations. Both companies operate across the globe and both are at less than half of their 52-week highs.

And a pair of producers
As to the producers, there are several that I could point you to, but I'm going to limit this area to two that have enjoyed success together:

 

Market Cap.

Forward P/E

Forward Yield

ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM)

$346.3B

12.1

2.40%

Hess (NYSE:HES)

$20.4B

24.6

0.70%

Source: Yahoo! Finance intraday on May 19, 2009.

Other companies active in Brazil include the likes of Anadarko, Devon, and even Spain's Repsol. And while Brazil won't be a "company maker" for Exxon, I'm convinced that in our topsy-turvy world, investors in the company receive all manner of added benefits, from a worldwide presence, to superb technological capabilities, and a balance sheet that includes $25 billion in cash. The company has announced a couple of significant discoveries in Brazil just this year and reportedly has a number of other sites targeted for future drilling.

Hess is an equal partner with Exxon in its latest Brazilian discovery. And, while its P/E isn't for the faint of heart, in my opinion there's at least one good reason for the lofty figure. More than two-thirds of Hess' total reserves are in oil, and BMO Capital Markets estimates that for every dollar increase in crude oil prices, Hess earns an additional 19 cents a share. If you believe in oil's steady climb as the global economy recovers, then it is easy to understand the bullish sentiment around this company.

So I urge my Foolish friends to think about the information above. I'm not recommending any of these stocks over the others, but simply trying to give you an easy starting point for your own research into the opportunities in this active and expanding new energy play.  

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. He does welcome your questions or comments. Petroleo Brasileiro is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a deepwater-tested disclosure policy.