Checking in on DeHaemer’s East African Oil Story

Friday File look at a teaser that continues to circulate, with some new twists (and stocks) and a personal buy.

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, March 9, 2012

Christian DeHaemer is perhaps more active than any other newsletter guy I know in his pursuit of the out-of-the-way and dangerous natural resources companies — which means the picks he puts out as teasers for his Crisis and Opportunity newsletter (and previously, with his Crisis Trader for a different publisher) can be even more volatile than most. Not only are we dealing with the risks common to any small energy companies, particularly exploration risk, but you can also throw in heavy doses of regulatory risk and political risk and plain old “your drilling crew might get kidnapped” risk.

Which always makes for a good story, at the very least. And sometimes it brings to light some stocks that take tremendous runs in the market — a few of his past picks have rocketed up based on their prospects in risky areas that many investors were avoiding or had never heard of, like Dragon Oil in Turkmenistan, and some others have gone up abruptly and then fallen off hard when drilling results disappointed, like Petro Matad in Mongolia.

The latest story is about East Africa, which is widely expected to be a petroleum hotbed for the next couple decades. The basic argument is that the area is far less explored than their neighbors on either side, West Africa to the West, with it’s huge oil finds and major producers like Nigeria and Angola and, closing in on the East, the big discoveries in Uganda in recent years; and Yemen and Saudi Arabia to the East, which might share some geologic rift systems with Somalia, Kenya and the rest of East Africa across the Gulf of Aden and down the Indian Ocean coast.

And the “unexplored” part is because many oil majors abandoned exploration in East Africa either before the war in Somalia, because of low oil prices, or after that War for political and risk reasons (that’s simplifying, because some exploration projects simply get abandoned because they don’t hit big paydirt right away, but largely true — there was some exploration by the big players in the 1970s and 1980s that largely dried up by the 1990s).

With demand for oil still increasing and a huge international crowd of explorers trying hard to find any new prospect, including in geologically and economically risky areas under deep oceans or polar ice, it’s no surprise that a relatively underexplored ...

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