Go, Mississippi, you’re on the right track,

Go, Mississippi, and this is a fact,

Go, Mississippi, you’ll never look back,


Go, Mississippi, keep rolling along,

Go, Mississippi, you cannot go wrong,

Go, Mississippi, we’re singing your song,


(Go, Mississippi - Words and Music by Houston Davis)


According to a survey conducted in June of this year by the Fraser Institute, Mississippi is ranked as the top place in the world for oil and gas investment.

This official opinion is based on the responses of international petroleum executives and managers in the 2011 Global Petroleum Survey.

According to a press release put out by the institute, Mississippi, which was ranked sixth out of 133 jurisdictions in 2010, vaulted into the No. 1 spot out of 136 jurisdictions included in the survey (http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=17762).

In fact, American states dominated the Top Ten spots, with Ohio in the number 2 spot, followed by Kansas (3), Oklahoma (4), Texas (5), West Virginia (6), Alabama (8), and North Dakota (10).

Internationally, The Netherlands-North Sea region took the number 7 spot, with Hungary at number 9. These were the only two regions outside the US to make Top Ten.

Although Canada wasn’t in the top grouping, the province of Saskatchewan (the highest-ranked Canadian jurisdiction) finished at number 11 overall.

Gerry Angevine, Fraser Institute senior economist in the Global Resource Center and survey coordinator, said the US historically has had considerable representation in the international ranking. “By offering clear, stable regulatory and fiscal terms relative to other jurisdictions, many American states have cemented themselves as global favorites for oil and gas investment,” he said.

Not surprisingly, the US Gulf of Mexico experienced one of the largest drops in the rankings, plummeting to 60th place overall after finishing 11th in the 2010 survey, which was conducted before the Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

“The decline isn’t surprising, given the greater difficulty of obtaining drilling permits in the wake of the BP disaster,” Angevine said.

Several other US jurisdictions also earned poor scores for environmental regulations and associated uncertainties. The Pacific offshore was ranked 101st overall, the worst of the 23 American jurisdictions included in this year’s survey, after finishing 103rd last year. California ranked lowest, dropping to 91st from 87th in 2010.

“Survey respondents pointed to California’s complex environmental restrictions and lengthy wait times to attain drilling approvals as highly unattractive,” Angevine said.

Alaska, which respondents ranked as the second-least attractive state this year, dropped to 83rd place from 68th in 2010. Survey respondents remain critical of the state’s fiscal regime, environmental regulations, and land claims issues.

“Jurisdictions with reputations for political instability and corruption, steep royalty fees and tax rates, inadequate infrastructure, price controls, and labor shortages have difficulty attracting investment,” Angevine said. To be appealing, “Petroleum-producing regions must offer investors competitive tax regimes and regulatory certainty.”

Areas of the world that have the most work to do to attract investors include: Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Iraq, Libya, and Russia.

A number of areas showed remarkable declines in their relative attractiveness for investment this year. These include the Philippines, Canada's Northwest Territories, Uganda, Brunei, Uruguay, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the US Offshore-Alaska.

In Uganda, unexpected changes to the taxation system signaled the government’s lack of commitment to maintaining a stable policy environment. This was a key factor underlying the sharp drop in Uganda's ranking, which fell to 123rd this year from 94th in 2010.

Also near the bottom of the list, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) saw its ranking plummet to 130th, down from 106th last year.

“The arbitrary revocation of exploration rights from one company and their transfer to another party likely shattered whatever trust would-be investors may have had in Kinshasa and its ability to administer petroleum industry regulations fairly,” Angevine said.

About the survey

The Global Petroleum Survey is administered each year to petroleum industry executives to help measure and rank the barriers to investment of oil- and gas-producing regions. A total of 502 respondents completed the survey questionnaire this year, providing sufficient data to evaluate 136 jurisdictions. The E&D budgets of participating companies account for more than 60% of the annual spending on petroleum E&P among international oil companies.

The questionnaire sought the opinions of senior executives and managers on a range of issues, including royalties and other forms of petroleum production tax, taxation in general, the cost of regulatory compliance, trade and labor regulations, legal system fairness and transparency, and political stability, among other considerations.