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Exxon Mobil, TOTAL Show Interest in Greece Exploration Sites

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Greece recently received expression of interest from a consortium comprising Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM - Free Report) , TOTAL SA (TOT - Free Report) and Hellenic Petroleum for the exploration of oil and gas at two resources located offshore the island of Crete.   

What’s the Exploration Plan About?

Owing to an extended phase of financial crisis, Greece is presently encouraging energy companies to exploit its resources for more oil and gas findings. Significant discoveries of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean also encouraged the nation to launch the exploration program.

Last week, Greece’s energy minister organized a meeting with the representatives of Exxon Mobil and TOTAL for discussing prospective opportunities of exploration and production within the country. If exploitable and commercial resources are discovered, Greece will support the exploration of the same, as per Efstathios Tsotsoros, chairperson of Hellenic Petroleum.

How Will the Plan Benefit?

Tsotsoros added that development in this front will definitely prove beneficial for the nation in terms of overall economic growth and position in the geopolitical space.

Also, such activities will boost the upstream businesses of Exxon Mobil and TOTAL given that oil has recovered from the historical lows of last February. Both the companies have the scope to sell the commodity at escalated prices and hence might be able to drive returns for shareholders.

Brief Note on the Companies

Irving, TX-based Exxon Mobil is the world’s largest publicly traded oil company with upstream, midstream and downstream operations. With a stable cash position, the company’s balance sheet is one of the strongest in the industry.

However, the one-year price chart shows that the company has underperformed the Zacks categorized Oil & Gas-International Integrated industry. During the period, the company lost 9.8%, as against the 3.6% gain of the broader industry.

France-based TOTAL is among the top five publicly traded global integrated oil and gas companies in terms of production volumes, proved reserves and market capitalization. The company – also belonging to Oil & Gas-International Integrated industry – has rallied 10.2% over the last one year.

On the flip side, a significant portion of TOTAL’s production growth over the last few years has come from asset acquisitions, exposing it to acquisition-related risks.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Both ExxonMobil and TOTAL carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Meanwhile, better-ranked players in the energy sector include Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ - Free Report) and McDermott International Inc. (MDR - Free Report) . Both the stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.       

For Canadian Natural, we expect year-over-year earnings growth of around 720% for 2017. 

McDermott beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters, with an average positive surprise of 387.50%.   

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