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Cove is proof that our love of a good punt can make big bucks

HATS off to John Craven and his team at Cove Energy who have made themselves, and their loyal followers, significant amounts of money.

Exploration stocks are not for widows and orphans but they seem to chime with the Irish love of a punt or gamble. Ignored by analysts and the media, the extraordinary surge in the value of exploration stocks has gone largely unnoticed. Tullow may be a household name but companies such as Dragon, Providence, Petroceltic and Kenmare are still obscure relative to their size.

Rather like bookshops that hide the profitable science fiction section in a dark corner down the back while displaying the poetry section close to the entrance, the investment community sometimes appears a little ashamed of the success of the exploration sector. There are exceptions of course. Davy Stockbrokers' Joe Langebroek is a cool, analytical but enthusiastic surveyor of the scene but the big investment houses and the stock exchange itself rarely appear too excited by the exploration scene.

Those with long memories point to Dana Petroleum and other failures such as Atlantic Resources and a healthy scepticism is always necessary when it comes to stocks like these but there have been many more winners than losers in the last decade and almost no exploration stock has performed as badly as our banks.

Canada, a country famous for its sensible banks, is also home to many of the world's largest exploration companies which have flocked to the Toronto Stock Exchange to benefit from the investment expertise that can be found there.

Here, we like to pretend to ourselves that we can become home to many of the exciting new green technologies despite evidence that Irish people have almost no interest in environmental issues.

Perhaps we'd all be better off if we stopped trying to flirt with the green agenda and tried instead to capitalise on the somewhat improbable success of Irish exploration companies and the native love of a good gamble.

Indo Business