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But looking back at a previous boom - the California Gold Rush of 1849 - gives investors a good clue about where prospects might be better.
During the gold rush, many miners ran up into the mountains seeking riches. Few succeeded. But those who opened up shops that sold the picks, shovels, and other mining equipment made a fortune.
That principal is just as true today in the U.S. shale oil boom, says Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors.
Exploration and production companies won't get a top producer out of every well they drill. But they'll have to buy lots of equipment for every well they drill in their quest for the best strikes.
The companies that manufacture and distribute the drilling equipment may not be as sexy as the oil and gas exploration companies, but they will profit from the boom just as much - if not more.
The Best Investments Lie in the Oilfield Services Boom
Analysts at Deutsche Bank believe oil service stocks are under-owned by investors, especially in light of what they expect to be increased spending by energy companies on equipment in the latter part of 2013.
And in a report published earlier this year, business intelligence firm GBI Research said booming exploration and production spending will lead directly to the global oilfield services industry climbing significantly in value over the next several years.
GBI forecasts the oilfield services industry, led by the shale boom, to grow from $152 billion in 2012 to $213 billion in 2017.
Increasing demand from emerging economies, GBI said, will spur the search for new energy supplies, and enhanced technologies will allow oil companies to search in previously unreachable places.
All three segments of the oil and gas industry - exploration and evaluation, drilling, and completion and production - stand to gain, with completion and production as the biggest winner.
Oilfield service companies are clearly among the best investments in energy; fortunately there are several good ways to play this sector...