Africa: The Next Oil Boom

Written By Christian DeHaemer

Posted May 12, 2011

This Saturday at noon, I will be boarding an Ethiopian Airlines 757 bound for Nairobi, Kenya, with a layover in Dubai.

And to tell you the truth, I’d rather do my taxes than be jammed into a smelly, noisy metal tube for seventeen hours…

I’m not looking forward to being poked and prodded by security and abused by customs officials; nor the traditional fight over which beat-up, third world taxi will have the privilege of overcharging me on the way to the hotel.

But in the end, the tedious slog will be worth it.

Because the last time I took a 24-hour flight on Air Mongolia, I found a small oil stock. It had up to about 2 billion barrels of oil and it was trading with a market value of under $50 million.

That was about a year and a half ago. It is now valued more dearly…

The stock went up as high as 1,089% since I recommended it to readers of Crisis & Opportunity.

Small, Fast, and Quick

The mere fact that a company is small, unheard of, and hard to get to means that if you get there first to discover it, you’ll make the most profits as the world learns about it.

You see, if a company like ExxonMobil (XOM) or BP (BP) were to find two billion barrels of oil, it would be priced into the share price before the press release came out.

The First with the Most

Most fund managers and analysts are lazy.

They didn’t start out that way. Back in the beginning, they were fired up and ready to take the bull by the tail.

But over the years, too many banananut bagels and double Frappuccinos have made it much easier to let the computers do the trading. Heck, they get paid anyway…

Why go halfway around the world and endure endless spine-jarring rides over corduroy roads to go see if a coal mine is actually a coal mine, and not just a bunch of black rocks?

Just get a wise word from the oil guy the next time you see him at Starbucks.

That’s how real life works.

But some fund managers do make the trip. They look at the site and listen to the people doing the work. They ask questions of the government and write their own reports instead of stealing them from some blog.

I know some of these guys and they have done very, very well for themselves over the years.

And this is because there is still one true way to make money: Get there first with the most.


And right now, like always, everyone wants oil.

The world is running out of the cheap, easy-to-find-and-produce kind. That’s right — they found all the oil that’s likely to be found in Texas and Saudi Arabia. Now the wildcatters and speculators are poking in those dark and murky places they left behind.

Wells unconsidered 10 years ago — deep in the frozen Arctic and miles under the ocean floor — are now being funded. Light is being shed on every miserable corner of the globe.

Places like Somalia, which always had too unstable a government to explore prior, are being talked about. Other places like Mongolia, Columbia, and Kenya have seen their government mature and become stable.

Oil that was unsearchable when explorers were getting their heads cut off on YouTube is being found today.

People who know this and show up early are the ones who see the biggest gains…

I’ve seen it happen over and over again: Tullow, Heritage, Dragon Oil. I could name 15 off the top of my head.

Now these people are going to Kenya — a country that doesn’t produce any oil yet and that is undergoing a fuel shortage.

It seems speculators bought up the majority of the 19 million liters the country had in storage, and they don’t want to sell. When the gasoline started running short, motorists stocked up, worsening the shortage. This has the population angry and the government pointing fingers.

That said, if geologists are correct, Kenya will soon switch its worries from a shortage of fuel to an abundance.

You see, Kenya is on the lower end of the East African Rift — a continental plate called the Somalian Plate that broke from the Arabian Plate some 65 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.

Before that, what are now Arabia and East Africa was a fecund, shallow ocean. Over millions of years, animals and plant matter died off, sank to the bottom, and were transmogrified into the world’s greatest oil well: the Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.

The plates then broke off and the oil field was split.

We know there is oil in Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia. There is oil just offshore Kenya in the Indian Ocean. There is oil in Uganda to the west and in the Congo to the south.

And right now, due to a stable democratic government and regional peace, every major oil company from around the globe is rushing to Kenya in hopes of finding the mother lode.

But as always, a handful of smaller, nimble wildcatters got there first…

I’ll be giving my Crisis & Opportunity readers first crack at them, starting next week. Join us.


chris sig 

Christian DeHaemer
Editor, Energy & Capital

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