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ExxonMobil (XOM) Sets Foot in Liberia, Drills First Well

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Oil giant ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM - Free Report) recently announced that it has commenced drilling operations on the Mesurado-1 exploration well, offshore Liberia.

Originally, the drilling operations were scheduled for 2014. However, the Ebola outbreak compelled the international oil & gas exploration and development company to defer its drilling plans. Now that the disease has been contained, ExxonMobil declared its intention to continue with its drilling plans off Liberia in October this year.

Per Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (“COPL”), ExxonMobil is employing SeaDrill Limited’s (SDRL - Free Report) 2014-built drillship – West Saturn – to drill the exploration well.

The well is the first one to be operated by ExxonMobil offshore Liberia and targets oil in Late Cretacous sands. Located about 50 miles offshore Liberia on Block LB-13, the well lies in about 2500 meters of water. The well will also provide calibration for seismic response, which can be used to appraise other leads on the block.

ExxonMobil farmed into LB-13 in 2013 and acquired 80% stake of COPL. Later, the shareholding was increased to 83%. The remaining 17% is held by COPL’s fully owned subsidiary, Canadian Overseas Petroleum (Bermuda) Limited.

ExxonMobil is the world’s best run integrated oil company based on its track record of high return on capital employed. ExxonMobil’s strength lies in its balanced operations, strong financial flexibility, continuous efficiency and cost control.

The company’s efforts to build an unconventional resource portfolio both in North America and overseas reflect its aim to increase production through higher exposure to large energy resources with long reserve life and low field declines. Despite the collapse in natural gas prices, ExxonMobil expects unconventional gas to play a dominant role in future supplies owing to the rapid decline in conventional production. The company possesses more than 8 million unconventional acres in North America.

ExxonMobil currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked players in the same sector include SunCoke Energy Inc. (SXC - Free Report) and Suncor Energy, Inc. (SU - Free Report) . Both these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

SunCoke Energy posted a positive earnings surprise of 177.78% in the last reported quarter. It delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the four preceding quarters.

Suncor Energy posted a positive earnings surprise of 300.00% in the preceding quarter. It reported an average earnings surprise of 40.55% for the four preceding quarters.

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