NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Did Whiting Petroleum (WLL) hear footsteps? That's the first thing I thought about when I heard yesterday that the company is offering 0.177 shares of its stock for each share of Kodiak (KOG), a $3.7 billion fellow traveler in the fast-growing Bakken region of North Dakota.
Exactly a year ago, with Kodiak stock at $8 and change, this company tried to sell itself. Presumably, Whiting, one of the largest independent producers in the state, most likely took a look and passed on it.
Since then, there's been a real acceleration in finds in the Bakken as the state has become the second-largest oil producer in the country. Whiting, with this deal, should surpass the production of current Bakken champ, Continental Resources (CLR). That said, given the extraordinary production rates demonstrated by Harold Hamm's Continental, who knows whether a combined Whiting-Kodiak would be able to keep up?
The take-out, at these prices, amounts to a take-under as word spreads that Kodiak is once again for sale and we begin to get those increased production numbers -- ones that most people have chronically believed to have been impossible. Still, this deal transforms Whiting into a much better-known and, hopefully, less volatile and less thinly traded security.
Here's what I find most intriguing, though: If you had asked me, going into this session, which oil company was most likely to be acquired next, the answer would have been Whiting. At $9 billion in market capitalization, it is certainly swallow-able, and several companies have made it pretty clear that they wish they had more American exposure. That's especially true for Statoil (STO), which bought neighboring Brigham Exploration for $44 billion in cash. I know from speaking with Statoil management that it regards the acquisition as incredibly successful. This is very important, considering the pretty shocking North Sea production declines.