Oil has been climbing for weeks and many speculators believe it is on route to the record high of more than $147 per barrel, which was set in the summer of 2008. The United States Oil Fund (NYSE:USO), which is designed to track the performance of crude oil, has risen 24% over the past six months and could be poised to head higher. As one might imagine, many oil companies also saw their stock prices bounce back this year. Here are four great oil stocks worth checking out. (Before investing in oil markets, read A Guide to Investing In Oil Markets.)

Not a Routine Drill
The offshore drilling equipment manufacturer Dril-Quip (NYSE: DRQ) continues to be one of the best plays in the sector. Shares of DRQ have surged over 100% over the past five years. Dril-Quip's stock price currently sits $10 below its 52-week high and is in a good position to make this up over the remainder of 2011. Also, the mid cap offshore driller Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW) experienced quite the rise so far this year. Shares are up 12.25% and many believe they could be positioned to head higher. The company has watched its stock price surge 32.4% over the past six months.

Oil Sands
Conoco Phillips
(NYSE:COP) is making a large bet on the development of various oil sands projects in Canada over the next decade as the company looks to grow production. The company estimates that production from these projects will quadruple by the end of this decade.

Conoco Phillips has approximately one million acres of properties in Alberta with bitumen deposits and has interests in many different oil sands projects. The company reported just over 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day of production in 2010.

In 2011, Conoco Phillips will spend $1.2 billion of its $12 billion upstream capital budget to advance these projects further. The company's goal is to increase production by a 15% compound annual growth rate through 2020, reaching close to 300,000 BOE per day of production by 2020.

Conoco Phillips uses the steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) method of extracting the bitumen from the ground. This involves the injection of steam into the ground, which liquefies the bitumen so it can be pumped to the surface, and processed further. Shares have risen 14.5% so far this year and the strength in oil suggests that they could be set for a move higher. (For more, see Peak Oil: What To Do When The Wells Run Dry)

Imperial Oil
Imperial Oil
(TSE:IMO) is a top performing Canadian oil producer with over 15 billion barrel equivalents of proved and non-proved resource reserves. In 2010, Imperial produced 247,000 barrels of oil and NGLs per day and based on current production rates, the reserve life index stands at 28 years. According to management, "The company has the potential, with plans in place, to more than double Upstream production volumes by 2020. Volumes are targeted to be up about 40 percent by 2013."

Imperial Oil also has a strong balance sheet with total a cash flow from operating activities and asset sales to total debt ratio of 4.43. IMO is also the only Canadian industrial company to have maintained an AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor's. Shares are up an impressive 26% so far this year. (So you've finally decided to start investing. But what should you put in your portfolio? Find out here. Check out How To Pick A Stock.)

The Bottom Line
The price of crude has since made a strong comeback in recent months and many oil companies have also seen the same in their stock prices. (To learn about what drives oil prices, read What economic indicators are especially important to oil traders?)

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Tickers in this Article: USO, DRQ, ATW, IMO, COP

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