Colorado and Thailand are the top two locations in the world for oil and gas exploration and development investments, according to energy industry experts surveyed by The Fraser Institute, a Calgary-based research organization. This was one of the points the institute highlighted in its first global survey of upstream petroleum companies.

From the petroleum experts' perspective the other worldwide locations in their top-five are Qatar, Romania and the United Kingdom. Fraser's 2007 survey ranked locations throughout the world on the basis of having the lowest barriers to investment.

In Canada, the survey, which was conducted last spring, revealed that potential investors rate Saskatchewan province as more favorable than Alberta, and this was before the latter province changed its oil and gas tax policies in October and the resulting reduction of capital expenditures for next year. Alberta's new policies take effect in 2009. Elsewhere in Canada, the Fraser survey indicated that Newfoundland and Labrador was viewed by petroleum investors as the worst province.

On the U.S. side of the survey, Colorado was followed by Wyoming, Alaska and Texas.

"Colorado is a bit surprising to see at the top of the survey, but it's an indication of the stable regulatory environment in that state combined with a favorable tax regime and other positive factors," said Gerry Angevine, senior economist at Fraser and the lead author of the survey.

Fraser said the survey was modeled after the institute's mining industry survey. The petroleum industry survey is aimed at helping measure and rank the investment climate in each area.

The survey results are used to rank jurisdictions according to the barriers to investment posed by existing policies and institutional arrangements, Angevine said. A number of composite indexes, along with environmental, regulatory and business indices, were used to measure response to questions dealing with the impact on investment of fiscal terms (royalties/license agreements), taxation, local natural gas prices, regulatory compliance costs, regulatory uncertainty, environmental regulations, local requirements, trade/labor regulations, security concerns and more.

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