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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Follow Up On Gulf-Related Oil Companies

Steve posed an worthy question that I think deserves to be followed up on in a big way. "Would other Gulf-operating organizations be affected long term or will the moratorium be lifted quickly enough that these other companies could take advantage of BP's now tarnished image?" This is a discussion that is very much worth having going forward and I would like to explore some of the possibilities. 

The companies listed here are Cameron International (CAM), Oceaneering International Inc (OII), Transocean (RIG), Diamond Offshore (DO), and Amerada Hess (HES). Of all of them, CAM and RIG are those most closely related to the particular event, though it appears that CAM has been weathering the storm comparatively well when you look at RIG. RIG, as the owner of the rig (how's that for a great stock symbol by the way), has direct liability issues with the spill just as BP does. CAM is also potentially liable as they actually made the equipment that was supposed to close the well-head and stop this from occurring in the first place. 

Outside of BP, CAM, and RIG, the others might present some possibilities among the oil service companies. Of course, there are also BP's rivals such as ConocoPhillips (COP) and Chevron (CVX). The biggest risk to those two is easy to understand. If the Gulf is shuttered, less oil for them, and there will be greater capital expenditures on exploration and field development elsewhere in the future. If the Gulf is not completely shuttered, both COP and CVX look somewhat promising at this juncture.

Now, as for the variety of oil service companies mentioned here and also in this TheStreet.com article it is important to know exactly how these companies make their money, what their exposure to the Gulf is, etc. In terms of how they make their money, is it more reliant on new field development or is it more of a function of the output of current fields through contracts with the integrated oil companies? I have to confess, I am not too familiar with these arrangements. To boil down my previous knowledge on these companies to a simple statement: I knew they made money when oil went up and made less of it when oil went down. Circumstances such as this add complications and it is worth looking into it. I don't think that the market has priced many of these companies efficiently, particularly those with greater overseas exposure. 

That being said, it is very important in this group that you know how the company makes its money. If it is more a function of global oil prices than new field development, that is worth noting. I simply am not familiar enough with them at this point to say which ones are good plays and which ones are not. I will take a stab at OII to see how reliant they are on the Gulf, what their contracts look like, and whatever else may be interesting. All of these companies have gotten slammed big time and there will be opportunities to be had. The question is where. 

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