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The $6 billion buyout of Kodiak Oil & Gas by Whiting Petroleum is renewing investor attention on independent energy firms with operations in North Dakota's Bakken Shale formation, especially those significantly owned by hedge funds.
Billionaire John Paulson's Paulson & Company is listed by market data firm Capital IQ as the single biggest owner of Kodiak stock, holding just under 10 percent of shares outstanding as of the last filing date.
Though many of the largest producers in the Bakken region are already huge companies or parts of huge companies—Hess, EOG Resources, Statoil, Marathon and XTO Energy, for instance—there are a few small and mid-cap independent players showing hedge fund interest.
It is important to note here—and always when looking at fund holdings posted via quarterly SEC filings—that because of the backdating rules (filings come out six weeks after the end of a quarter) the holdings listed below may have either grown or shrunk in size.
As of the last filing date, the single biggest holder of Oasis Petroleum is also Paulson & Co. Capital IQ lists the hedge fund as owning 9.9 million shares, or about 9.8 percent of the shares outstanding. Paulson added more than 2.4 million shares in the first quarter to bring it to that number. Citadel LLC also owned a small stake, with 0.4 percent of shares outstanding.
Activist fund Jana Partners is listed as having a big stake in QEP Resources as of its latest filing. Capital IQ shows it with just over 16 million shares, or about 8.9 percent of the outstanding stock. Like Paulson with Oasis, Jana is listed as adding 2.4 million shares in the first quarter. D.E. Shaw also owned a 2.5 percent stake in QEP.
WPX has huge hedge fund ownership. Citadel owned nearly 3 percent of the outstanding shares as of the last filing date, followed closely behind by Point72 Asset Management (the new family office for hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen), Omega Advisors, and D.E. Shaw, which owned 2.5 percent, 1.8 percent and 1.3 percent of the stock as of their first-quarter filings, respectively.
—By CNBC's Brian Sullivan