SulphCo (SUF ) is no titan in the oil patch, but its Sonocracking technology may put it on the map. It upgrades crude oil by reducing sulfur and nitrogen through the use of high-power ultrasound. That squeezes an extra seven or so gallons of fuel from every barrel, says SulphCo President Peter Gunnerman. On Oct. 11, French energy giant Total (TOT ) inked a pact with SulphCo -- which trades on the American Stock Exchange with the symbol SUF -- to test Sonocracking on upstream and downstream operations. Total got an exclusive on the technology for Belgium, France, Italy, and Spain. In the U.S. and Mideast, SulphCo will partner with other major companies, says Gunnerman. It was in talks with Chevron (CVX ), which has tested Sonocracking, for a licensing pact, but "we failed to come to terms," he says. Total's entry is a big deal for SulphCo, says Ari Goldman of Endurance Capital, which owns shares. Its "revolutionary" technology could help cut U.S. imports, he says. SulphCo, now at 4.33, should bolt higher once Total turns in positive test results, he predicts.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.
By Gene G. Marcial