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Oil and gas exploration and production company Noble Energy Inc. (NBL - Analyst Report) expanded its operation in West Africa, thanks to the Production Sharing Contract (“PSC”) with the government of Gabon. Per the contract, Noble Energy will operate Block F15 in the Gabon Coastal Basin.

Block F15 is located nearly 87 miles (140 km) off the coast of Gabon and covers over  670,000 gross acres (2,700 square kilometers) in water depths ranging from 7,500 to 9,000 feet (2,300 to 3,000 meters). Noble Energy with a 60% interest will operate this offshore field while Australia-based Woodside Petroleum Ltd. will hold the remaining interest.

This deal will not only mark Noble Energy’s entry in Gabon but will also expand its diversified global portfolio. Another notable international oil and gas operator, France-based TOTAL S.A. (TOT - Analyst Report) has a five decade long presence in this stable oil-focused West African nation. TOTAL has been operating in Gabon through its subsidiary TOTAL Gabon.

Noble Energy’s offshore Eastern Mediterranean and West African assets could play a vital role in its growth story.  Increasing tension between Europe and Russia might help Noble Energy if the former decides to stop importing gas from Russia.

In June this year, Noble Energy signed a non-binding Letter of Intent involving its Leviathan field partners and BG International for the delivery of natural gas to BG's existing gas liquefaction complexes in Egypt from the Leviathan prospect, offshore Israel.

Noble Energy’s entry into Gabon appears to be a tactical move, which will allow the company to cater to the rising demand for oil and natural gas in the region.  

Noble Energy currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the sector include Cheniere Energy, Inc. (LNG - Snapshot Report) and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (APC - Analyst Report). While Cheniere Energy carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Anadarko Petroleum Corporation holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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