ETFs For The Bakken Shale
The Bakken Shale is one of the energy sector's hottest buzzwords these days and with good reason. Most U.S. shale plays are rich in natural gas, but not so much in oil. The north side of the Eagleford Shale in South Texas, which we proffered up some ETF plays on several weeks ago, is certainly oily, but the undisputed king of U.S. oil shale plays is the Bakken Shale.
Most of the Bakken's oil reserves, which are estimated to be 4.3 billion barrels, are found in North Dakota and that has helped the rural state sport one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. and climb to fourth among the top oil-producing states.
If current production levels hold, North Dakota could jump California and Alaska to take the number two spot behind Texas within the next decade, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That's good news for North Dakota and even better news for investors is that they don't need to invest in speculative pump-and-dump penny stocks to gain Bakken exposure. Here are some ETF ideas with decent Bakken Shale exposure.
1) SPDR Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSE: XLE): Yes, XLE is heavily allocated to traditional integrated oil names, but it is a relevant Bakken play as EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG) and Hess (NYSE: HES) are two of the biggest Bakken players and Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) has some Bakken acreage as well. Beyond the producers, XLE's exposure to Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) and National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV) is significant because those two will be among the companies providing oilfield services in Bakken.
2) SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSE: XOP): Given XOP's exposure to a broad swath of E&P companies, the ETF is a legitimate candidate to make any list of ETF shale plays and it did make an appearance on our Eagleford list. Even with that, XOP is a legit Bakken play because it is one of a just few ETFs that offer exposure to Brigham Exploration (Nasdaq: BEXP) and Whiting Petroleum (NYSE: WTL), two of the biggest Bakken players. Hess and Chesapeake also find homes here.
3) iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Index Fund (NYSE: IEO): XOP's chief rival, IEO features EOG and Chesapeake in its top six holdings with the largest weight to EOG of any ETF. Brigham and Whiting are also found here, and albeit slight, IEO does at least offer some exposure to Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR), another big Bakken name.
4) PowerShares Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production Portfolio (NYSE: PXE): As several of the above ETFs do, PXE features weights to Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO) and Murphy Oil (NYSE: MUR), which have significant Bakken acreage, but those two names combine for over PXE's weight, making this a sound Bakken option.
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