Sometimes the most critical developments don't come in the form of headline news.
Especially when a trend is just starting to develop. In such cases, it's often a passing comment from a knowledgeable person that tips us off to something important afoot.
That may be the case this week in the U.S. oil sector. Where one inner-circle member of the industry made a very unexpected remark about a place you wouldn't have thought.
The comment came during the quarterly earnings conference call for Gulf of Mexico explorer Energy XXI. From CEO John Schiller. An energy-sector veteran who worked the Gulf for 30 years with major companies like Devon Energy before starting up his current venture.
Schiller is the type of seasoned technical professional who knows U.S. offshore oil and gas as well as anyone in the world. In fact, with Energy XXI he is leading the charge on what appears to be one of the most significant new plays in North America. Re-completion of shallow-water oil fields using unconventional techniques like directional drilling to increase recovery of massive in-place oil reserves.
That trend is still very much under the radar. (But something we're going to be hearing a lot more about.) But on this week's call Schiller pointed to an even newer current that might be swirling out of this work.
A jump by U.S. oil companies to Southeast Asia.
Schiller briefly mentioned that his company is strongly considering a move into Malaysia. A seemingly long and exotic jump for a firm that is right now entirely focused in Louisiana.
But the wily veteran made an interesting and compelling argument. Noting that Malaysia and southeast Asia have the "same geology, same large structures" seen in the Gulf of Mexico. He even noted that a similar exodus happened after major oil companies first developed the Gulf in the 1960s. Afterward in the 1970s and 1980s, look-alike Southeast Asia was their next destination for large-scale investment.
If new technology really is revolutionizing Gulf production, E&Ps might once again have a reason to take their expertise "on the road" to places like this. Apparently at least one group of insiders is strongly considering it.
Here's to history rhyming and repeating,
By. Dave Forest