We always love a good comeback story — especially when it comes to the U.S. oil boom.
Usually we're rooting for the scrappy underdog, the play most people have forgotten about that suddenly erupts with a flurry of activity after a quiet decade.
That's precisely what happened in North Dakota's case. They've known since the 1950s that the Bakken held an enormous amount of oil... but it was only recently that companies were able to extract it.
Now there's another comeback on the horizon for the U.S. oil sector.
And this story is different than North Dakota's, because this place has been on top for decades.
Texas Oil Bonanza
It's easy to get distracted by the famous Texas fields...
These two areas alone represent a huge chunk of history in the U.S. petroleum industry — and have carried our domestic production for decades.
Thanks to the East Texas Field and Permian Basin, the state's oil output never averaged less than a million barrels per day over the last forty years.
What you might not realize, however, is that the largest oil-producing county in the entire state isn't in either one...
No, that honor goes to another play making a name for itself in South Texas.
Karnes County: The Leader in Texas Oil
Had you asked me which county in Texas is producing the most crude oil, my bet wouldn't have been south, but rather out west in the Permian Basin... somewhere like Andrews County.
And I would have been completely wrong.
Over 3.4 million barrels of oil flowed out of Karnes County during the month of February.
For the record, that's well over a million barrels more than in Andrews County.
As you should be well aware by now, South Texas is home to the Eagle Ford Formation, which straddles 23 counties.
Consider Karnes County the epicenter of the South Texas oil boom. This is the only production zone in the area pumping out more than 100,000 barrels per day.
It's also one of the reasons this formation is playing a huge role in the state's oil revival that I just mentioned.
Yes, things would have turned out much differently without the 240 rigs drilling into this play...
What's at stake? Up to 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil locked in the Eagle Ford, making it one of the largest oil deposits in the lower 48 states.
Comparatively, the USGS believes the Bakken and Three Forks formations collectively hold up to 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil.
Investing in the Eagle Ford Shale
Not surprisingly, we're not the only ones interested in developing the Eagle Ford. That much is obvious when you look at the amount of money that has been poured into U.S. shale projects since 2008.
In 2011 foreign investors spent over $3 billion in joint ventures in the Eagle Ford; last year it was a little less than $2 billion.
About a month ago, we focused on one angle for investors to play: the infrastructure side of the Texas oil boom.
But this isn't the only road to take...
I've always had a special place in my portfolio for drillers. These are the stocks responsible for the 74% year-over-year production jump in South Texas.
Take a closer look at EOG Resources, the largest leaseholder in the Eagle Ford, which has proven its long-term value for us so far:
Within the next four years, insiders are expecting Eagle Ford production to top 1.15 million barrels per day.
That means we're staring at a serious boost in output over the next decade.
If Texas' crude production is projected to double between now and 2020, there will be more than just three areas pushing production higher...
Later this week, I'll delve into another up-and-coming play that will help keep Texas on top for decades to come.
Until next time,
A true insider in the energy markets, Keith is one of few financial reporters to have visited the Alberta oil sands. His research has helped thousands of investors capitalize from the rapidly changing face of energy. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital as well as Investment Director of Angel Publishing's Energy Investor. For years, Keith has been providing in-depth coverage of the Bakken, the Haynesville Shale, and the Marcellus natural gas formations — all ahead of the mainstream media. For more on Keith, go to his editor's page.