Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Look For The Offshore Oil Bonanza

Drill, baby, drill!  Remember that mantra from 2008?  It still has some mileage left.  The world's top 31 oil producing countries will see their best existing wells peak or decline between now and 2030.  The bad news for many oil-rich countries is that they face declining national wealth unless they get serious about exploration.

Peak Oil is looking more and more like Plateau Oil thanks to technologies that extend the life of existing wells.  Doomsayers predicting the end of civilization will have a lot of crow to eat when they wake up from their Rip Van Winkle naps to find the lights still turned on a century from now.  Bring on the fracking and horizontal drilling for wells on land.  Fracking is still an imperfect technique after five decades of widespread use but the next generation of petroleum engineers will command hefty salaries figuring out how to perfect it.

The UK is pursuing new methods for recovering unconventional offshore oil.  The U.S. should do likewise.  The main obstacles to enhanced offshore oil recovery in U.S. waters are regulatory, not technological.  The BP Deepwater Horizon blowout is now ancient history and Americans will ignore offshore permitting as long as "American Idol" keeps them preoccupied.

My only problem is finding a company capable of exploiting an offshore bonanza.  I sold out of Tidewater (TDW) a long time ago with a decent capital gain once I realized they were larding up their balance sheet with long term debt.  Their share price has been all over the map for the past year but their net income has steadily declined since 2010.  They need to shape up their finances before I will ever take a second look at going long the stock.

Full disclosure:  No position in TDW at this time.