Oil prospectors shifting focus back to wealthy, more predictable countries

|By:, SA News Editor

Companies including Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) , Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Exxon (NYSE:XOM) are diverting more and more funds to the world’s richest economies, as they grow tired of the risks of working in violent and corrupt places for the reward of finding oil and gas reserves that can be profitably exploited, according to a WSJ analysis.

The companies are pulling out of more conflict-torn and difficult regions: CVX sold its assets in Chad this year, XOM has sold project stakes in Iraq and Indonesia, and Shell since 2010 has sold $1.8B of its Nigerian assets and last year began talks to sell four oil production blocks and a pipeline there.

Places like the U.S., Canada and the U.K. - which has opened bidding for its next set of onshore oil and gas exploration licenses - are more expensive to operate in, and regulations are tighter, but their political stability makes them more predictable.