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21 Billion Barrels of Oil Up For Grabs Here

It's always interesting when big developments start happening in clusters. Suggesting that things are moving faster in a certain space.

That seems to be the case the last few weeks in one resource destination: the European North Sea.

As we've discussed, the last two weeks have seen not one, but two large investment deals in this space. With private equity giants Riverstone Holdings and Blackstone Energy Partners leading separate consortiums that are placing over $1 billion in new capital with North Sea-focused E&P ventures.

And a couple of news items the last week may help to explain why these big investors are so enthused.

First, a report last week from Scottish think tank N-56. Suggesting that the discovery potential in the North Sea is still massive.

To arrive at this conclusion, N-56 hired a team of renowned geological staff. And focused them on evaluating the unconventional production potential of the Kimmeridgian shale--a formation that's long been suspected to contain huge possible reserves beneath North Sea waters.

The professionals concluded there is a substantial bounty here. Amounting to 21 billion barrels of oil, possibly recoverable through the use of advanced drilling techniques.

That's a big prize for whoever unlocks it--although it will likely take some time to figure out the best unconventional completions for targeting these undersea shales.

But other analysts see potential in this region that is much closer at hand.

Like global energy specialists Wood Mackenzie. Who said this week they believe one single part of the North Sea may hold 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent--in resources that have already been discovered and simply not developed.

The group focused on Norway, looking at 206 fields where oil and gas accumulations are known but not being produced. Aggregating these resources, they arrived at the 10 billion boe figure--which they estimate could be worth over $100 billion.

That could add up to a substantial reward for developers here. Especially smaller ones, of the kind that private equity groups have been backing.

Look for more such activity in this quietly surging space.

Here's to the next billions,

Dave Forest




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