London-listed international oil and gas exploration and production company Frontera Resources(LSE: FRR) attracts high-risk investors like nectar attracts bees. The question is whether this means a honeypot, or a honey trap?
Black Sea, black gold
The £78m AIM-traded company could have a sweet future ahead of it - potentially. It is identifying opportunities in emerging markets in Eastern Europe around the Black Sea, primarily Georgia and Moldova. The group's team of experienced oil professionals is keen to exploit its first-mover advantage in the region, but there are risks. It shares have fallen sharply after peaking at 0.88p in September, and trade at 0.48p today. So a halfpenny stock.
Recent exploration work has been positive, with Frontera reporting multiple oil and associated gas shows at the three-well drilling programme at its Taribani Complex of Block 12 in Georgia. However, the upbeat tone of these reports did little to stall the recent share price slide.
Frontera is not for the fainthearted. It will be a long time before it starts generating profits, and in the meantime will keep spending cash on drilling and other activities. Raising funds has not been a problem so far, with oil nudging $70 a barrel, and the group completing a successful fundraising of £4m in February, with both new and existing investors backing its operations.
If it strikes oil, a stock like this could make you big money. In the interim, hope, fear and rumour will plug the gap, as we saw last September, when the share price spiked to the bafflement of management. My Foolish colleague Alan Oscroft labelled it a well-funded oily with promising assets, but you need bags of courage and patience.
As if that did not offer enough action, have you considered 88 Energy Ltd(LSE: 88E)? This £99m AIM-traded explorer operates the majority of the vast 475,000 acre Project Icewine, targeting oil on what it calls "the world class North Slope of Alaska". Its small team of experts targets overlooked or emerging plays with the aim of capitalising prior to larger industry players moving in.
Investor excitement peaked last June, when the share price hit the heady height of 4.25p. Today it stands at 2p, largely due to delays in its Icewine project.
As Roland Head reported here, the Australia-based exploration firm recently raised $8.1m from option investors and started work on a new 3D seismic survey seeking out prospective drilling opportunities on the Western Margin of the North Slope of Alaska.
Recent drilling reports have been fairly positive but my gosh, this kind of company is so risky. Management itself is on tenterhooks, waiting for the outcome of survey and drilling reports. Investors are one step removed from that, and any money you invest is at the whim of unguessable news flow.
If that doesn't deter you, my advice is to spread your money across a basket of companies like these, in the hope that profits from one or two winners will outweigh the inevitable losses. These two stocks could help you build your tax-free ISA million, but do limit your exposure.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.