Oil seems to be on every bodies mind a lot lately both in the good sense and the bad sense, but regardless of what one thinks of the oil industry it is the #1 most efficient energy source in the world. And if we didn’t have it we would still be on horse and buggies or riding a bicycle to and from work.
The oil industry has always had a mystical aura about it in the fact that it just appears out of the ground and the thoughts of Jed shooting at the ground in the Beverly Hillbillies and it comes bubbling out of the ground. In reality this is not the case, but it does make for a good story.
I am not going to go into the many different reasons of why oil is a good thing, but I do want to address the bad publicity it has gotten in the area of risk that is involved when investing into the oil industry.
First I want to disclose that I come from a family that was born and raised in Southern Illinois who made their living working in the oil industry by drilling and servicing oil wells. I know people are never aware that there are such things as oil wells in Illinois, but there are approximately 650 oil fields and around 30,000 oil wells in the state. It is a dirty business and not very many people want to do this kind of work, but we are all thankful for the people who have chosen to work in this industry.
When most people think of investing in oil wells they think of dry holes and unscrupulous individuals like Snidely Whiplash hiding in the weeds waiting to prey on another suspecting investor with cash hanging out of their pocket. Again, another myth. The reality of investing in oil wells is that with this kind of investment you can at least visit the well site and see where your money was invested and talk to the operator who you invested with and find out the situation if it is either good or bad. Not so when an individual invests in the stock market or mutual funds. And that is why I wrote the article about the “10 Myths of Investing in Oil”
When people invest money they are either buying stocks or mutual funds or REITS or some other type of investments I can’t even pronounce and how do they do it? Either online with a computer screen in front of them or at an Edward Jones or Financial Institution’s office. And even then you don’t know what you are investing in. You get to meet a nice person to whom you write the check to, but that is about it. And is it risky? Can you say “Bernie Madoff?”
My point to the story is not to make light of investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or CD’s or other financial instruments. It is only to let people know that investing in oil is no more risky and sometimes less risky than the many different financial products that is touted by the many financial institutions.
Relax, enjoy the journey and hopefully I have shared some information that will benefit you in some way.
Myth #1 – You can lose all of your money.
Truth – It depends on how you want to look at your money. In reality the money that you invest into the oil business is different than the money you would invest into the stock market or the purchase of real estate. When someone invests into the stock market or the purchase of real estate they are investing with “post” tax dollars. Meaning they are using the money they have left over after paying the taxes that are owed on the money they earned to make the investment. But when someone invests into the drilling of an oil well they are given preferential treatment from the federal government in the form of Tangible and Intangible investment allowances. What this means is that if you invested $25,000.00 into the drilling of an oil well you would be allowed to write off or deduct the Intangible amount of your investment off of your annual gross income 60% to 75% of your investment could be written off against your personal income) of the year you made the investment. In essence you could never lose all of your money, because it never was all your money in the first place. The government was going to get their part of your income regardless whether you invested into an oil well or not. Generally they were going to get between 35% to 40% of your income anyway. So when you invest into an oil well you are really using some of your money and part of the government’s money.
Myth #2 – It is more profitable to buy stock in Exxon or a major oil company from my stock broker than to invest in an oil well.
Truth – When you purchase stock from a stock broker or online in essence you are buying tiny piece of a huge corporation with millions of many different pieces. There is some comfort in knowing that it is a large corporation with holdings all over the world, but it also comes with a huge overhead to support. When one purchases stock in such a large corporation with their large overhead it takes a lot of movement in the market for one to make a substantial profit, plus you are buying the stock with “post” tax dollars so you only getting to invest 60% to 70% of the income you had earned. You have already given up a large part of your buying power before you even start. When you invest into an oil well it is called “Direct Participation” and that is what is happening. You are investing directly either into one oil well or a group of oil wells. Your investment is more focused on the production of oil and not on the running of a huge corporation. Your investment will have the chance to grow faster and larger when it is focused instead of thrown into a huge group where it is used to run the machine.
Myth # 3 – Most oil wells are a dry hole. They only find oil in about 1 out 10 wells drilled.
Truth – There are different kinds of drilling when it comes to finding oil. The type that most people have heard of is “Wildcatting”. It is what was talked about on the TV shows of Dallas and other movies about oil wells where the guy goes out into the middle of nowhere and when he is down and out on his last dollar hits a gusher of a well and it blows up in the air and everyone lives happily ever after like the Beverly Hillbillies. In situations like that where one is drilling in the middle of no known oil production the odds of getting a dry hole are probably more like 25 to 1 that you will get a dry hole.