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3 Energy Stocks for Colorado’s Hidden Shale Play

Colorado's Niobrara shale dwarfs the Bakken in possible production

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Three Energy Stocks To Tap The Niobrara

Producers only began fracking the Niobrara back in 2010, and with unconventional production in the field just getting started, investors have the ability to get in on the ground floor. Given the reserve and resource potential, they may want to bet on the leading energy stocks in the region.

One of the best energy stocks to buy for Niobrara exposure is Anadarko Petroleum (APC).

After beating back the worst-case scenario relating to its legal battle with Tronox (TROX) and the Department of Justice, APC is ready to begin life anew. That includes focusing on domestic crude oil and the Niobrara.

Anadarko first entered the field by buying railroad Union Pacific’s (UNP) resource unit back in 2000. It has since expanded its unconventional operations in the Niobrara and currently controls more than 350,000 acres in the oil-rich window of the field. Those holdings have continued to see rising production. Last year, APC produced an average of 56,000 barrels per day worth of Niobrara crude — an increase of about 34,000 barrels versus 2012’s numbers.

That production should increase even further has APC plans on spending nearly $1.5 billion in the field this year and drill more than 360 wells. All in all, that should help Anadarko realize continued double-digit production gains.

One of the other prime Niobrara energy stocks is Noble Energy (NBL).

NBL currently holds the largest acreage position in the region, at nearly 610,000 net acres. That dominant position also makes it the leading producer in the Niobrara. Currently, Noble produces just 100,000 barrels per day from the field. And like APC, NBL is making the Niobrara a major focus of its future production gains.

Noble plans on spending about $2 billion in the shale formation this year and another $12 billion over the next five years. That should help NBL hit an aggressive 250,000 barrels per day production rate by 2018. With some of the lowest costs of production in the field — thanks to new multi-pad well drilling campaign — Noble should be able to realize immense profitability from its efforts.

Also getting in on the Niobrara is Bakken-player Whiting Petroleum (WLL). In fact, WLL is so smitten with the play that it sold its assets in Texas last year in order to take advantage of the oil in Colorado. The firm currently controls around 123,000 acres in the oil-rich window of the play. While that isn’t as large as the positions of APC or NBL, it could mean be big things for WLL shareholders.

Whiting has found more than 3,300 potential drilling locations in that small amount of acreage. That’s about 28 years’ worth of potential drilling, given the firm’s current rates. What’s more is that the amount of oil in its acreage is nearly double the amount of its Bakken holdings. Overall, the Niobrara could be considered a transitive event for energy stocks like WLL.

The Bottom Line: The Niobrara is heating up. Investors should bet on the energy stocks trio of APC, NBL and WLL to play the new shale field.

As of this writing, Aaron Levitt did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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