Gulfport Energy Corp. is all about finding crude oil, no matter where it has to go to find it.
The Oklahoma City-based company is active in Louisiana, Texas, Colorado and Ohio, with international operations in Thailand and Canada's oil sands.
“We've actually always had an oil bias,” Gulfport Chief Financial Officer Mike Moore said.
Moore said the company continues to try to identify more oily plays to add to its asset base.
That likely helped Gulfport rise to No. 2 on the Oklahoma Inc. list of the state's top companies, fueled by a 150.3 percent increase in total returns.
Gulfport was No. 7 on the list last year, making it one of only four companies to maintain a place in the top 10.
CEO Jim Palm said 90 percent of Gulfport's production is oil, including sweet crude from Louisi
Palm said he is optimistic that Gulfport's production will increase in the future because of its investment in Grizzly Oil Sands LLC, a joint venture with a Connecticut hedge fund.
Officials have identified about 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil in Grizzly's holdings, despite only exploring about 35 percent of its acreage.
Production in Canada is set to begin in 2013 after a $400 million facility is completed there. Gulfport officials said the company's share of that expense is manageable.
Gulfport also has acquired acreage in Ohio's Utica shale, one of the nation's hottest new oil plays.
“That'll be our big growth area next year,” Palm said.
The company intends to drill 1,000 wells there in the next few years.
He said Gulfport aims to buy into areas with a lot of oil in place, using new technology like directional drilling to extract as much of it as possible.
Palm said the Niobrara shale in Colorado and Wyoming has seen lots of activity, but some of the buzz has gone away.
Gulfport has some holdings in northwest Colorado, where Palm said the company will begin drilling aggressively by next spring.
It currently is interpreting data from scientific wells on the company's acreage.
Moore said Gulfport will continue to focus on crude oil exploration, despite the commodity's price fluctuations.
“It's a world commodity with world demand,” he said.
But he would not rule out a switch to increased natural gas production, if conditions are right.
Investors seem to like Gulfport the way it is, with the market valuing the company for its strong balance sheet.
“Right now we have no debt,” Moore said.
He said the company tends to be conservative. It raises money for acquisitions, not operations.
“We drill out of cash flow,” Moore said.