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Texas Still Tops For Global Natural Gas, Oil Investment, Says Survey

Texas remains the most attractive place in the world for oil and natural gas investment, with Alberta holding the No. 2 position, the Fraser Institute reported Thursday.

The annual Global Petroleum Survey by the Canada-based research institute this year ranked 156 jurisdictions worldwide on their relative attractiveness for investment. A total of 710 industry executives representing 563 companies completed the survey this year, providing enough data to evaluate 156 jurisdictions, versus 157 in 2013 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 18, 2013). Barriers to investment include high taxes, costly regulatory obligations and uncertainty over environmental regulations.

Texas is the best place to invest among the 27 areas with the most petroleum reserves, evidenced by the strong state economy, job creation and "widespread prosperity," said Kenneth Green, senior director of Fraser's Centre for Natural Resources. Texas also topped last year's ranking.

Alberta came in at No. 2 worldwide because its "wealth of petroleum reserves continue to attract investment, which creates jobs for scores of Canadians," Green said.

In third place among those jurisdictions with the largest petroleum reserves was Norway-North Sea, followed by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Among jurisdictions with large petroleum reserves, the least attractive places to invest were led by Venezuela, Iran, four Russian regions, Iraq and Egypt.

Of 44 jurisdictions with medium-size reserves, Oklahoma claimed the leading position, followed by Arkansas, North Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. Of other Canada provinces, Newfoundland & Labrador ranked 15th and British Columbia (BC) was 19th.

Of places with "relatively small" proven reserves, Mississippi was the leader, followed by Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alabama and Kansas.

"Unlike many places around the world, North American jurisdictions typically provide safe environments for people and their assets, and have a transparent legal system that's attractive to oil and gas investment," Green said.

In Canada, Quebec presents the biggest barriers to oil and gas investment, according to the survey. The province's overall ranking improved slightly to 133 of 156 jurisdictions this year from 141 of 157 in 2013. However, "it's still clearly regarded as unattractive," with respondents pointing to the provincial leaders' "foot-dragging" during authorization and permit processes.

"Quebec continues to sour petroleum investment by delaying authorization for development, to the detriment of many Quebecers who could be working in the resource industries," Green said.

The BC province, where nearly all of Canada's proposed liquefied natural gas export projects would be sited, dropped to No. 62 from 47th place in 2013. Respondents expressed concern over BC tax policies, environmental regulations and uncertainty around regulatory enforcement.

"Once again, taxes and regulatory uncertainty drive British Columbia's relatively poor standing in the eyes of oil and gas investors," Green said.

Of all the Canada provinces, Nova Scotia dropped the most, falling to No. 61 from 30th in 2013. Factors contributing to the decline included disputed land claims, and regulatory duplication and inconsistencies.

This year's survey also offered an alternate ranking forecast, which ignored proven reserves figures and focused only on the respondents' answers. The respondents cited Oklahoma as the No. 1 place to invest, followed by Mississippi, Saskatchewan, Arkansas and Manitoba. Alberta was ranked No. 16.

Global regions least attractive to investment, per respondent answers only, were Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Iran and Russia-Eastern Siberia."In Venezuela, flagrant abuse of the decision-making processes and delinquency in payment for delivered crude were among the factors deterring petroleum investment in the country," Green said.

To determine the rankings, input for each jurisdiction was reviewed using respondents' answers, as well as the region's oil and gas reserves -- or lack thereof. As in previous surveys, investors indicated that they continue to turn away from jurisdictions with "onerous fiscal regimes, political instability and land claim disputes. Similarly, investors prefer to avoid jurisdictions with costly, time-consuming uncertain regulations. Other factors being equal, competitive tax and regulatory regimes can attract investment and thus generate substantial economic benefits."

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