North Sea explorer, Encore Oil (LON:EO.) was feted by fellow oil industry executives as the Small Cap of the Year at the annual Oil Council awards in London last Thursday. With more than 300 from across the industry present, the gala dinner was held to recognise the industry’s best performing companies and executives in 2010. Ross Campbell, CEO of The Oil Council, observed that, while there have been notable lows over the last 12 months following BP (LON:BP.)'s GOM disaster, the awards were intended to celebrate the significant successes of leaders "who represent the tenacity, innovation and incredible progress that this industry continues to make".
After a difficult 2009, shares in Encore Oil have risen over 7 times this year, following a find which was described by the company as “exceptional” in June at their Catcher field, 110 miles east of Aberdeen. Encore will soon be doing further drilling and its rig, the GSF Galaxy II is currently waiting for improved weather conditions in Dundee Harbour. Earlier this month, it was revealed that anxious investors are so keen to check progress that they are clogging up one of Dundee City Council's most popular webpages to train the city’s live Webcam on the rig.
The dinner took place in the ballroom of the Northumberland, Trafalgar Square, a newly restored venue unused for over 70 years which boasts some of the most impressive Victorian interiors in Europe. The judging panel included a range of leading industry executives & analysts, including Brian O’Cathain, the CEO of Petroceltic International (LON:PCI), David Greer, the former CEO of Regal Petroleum (LON:RPT), Terry Newendorp CEO of energy investment bank, Taylor-DeJongh, Marie-Aimée Boury of Societe Generale, Peter Hitchens of Panmure Gordon and James Henderson, the Managing Director of Pelham Bell Pottinger.
On the night, the judges awarded the Small Cap prize to Encore but the company was pipped by Falklands group, Rockhopper Exploration (LON:RKH) for the title of “Explorer of the Year”. Rockhopper's strength in this category came as little surprise. Its share price soared earlier this year on news that it had become the first (and so far only) explorer in the region to give investors something to cheer about. Nevertheless, EnCore’s CEO, Alan Booth won the most prestigious award for Executive of the Year, fending off competition from Amjad Beisu of EnQuest (LON:ENQ), Ronald Pantin of Pacific Rubiales (TSE:PRE) and Tom Cross of Dana Petroleum. Tom Cross had been seen by some as a favourite in recognition of its efforts at Dana, which was taken over recently in a titanic struggle by KNOC. However, observers noted that the recent stratospheric share price performance of The Parkmead Group (LON:PMG) is in itself clear recognition of the esteem in which Tom is held by investors.
The prize for Mid-Cap of the Year went to Tullow Oil Plc (LON:TLW), fending off competition from Heritage Oil (LON:HOIL) and Pacific Rubiales. Observers noted that Tullow has had an extremely successful year, albeit one slightly marred by the ongoing tax tangle following its acquisition of Heritage’s stake in the two companies’ Ugandan licenses earlier this year. The other two winners on the night were Petrobras as NOC of the Year and BG Group (LON:BG.) as Major of the Year.