This week's losers include Ophir Energy, Northern Petroleum and Lansdowne Oil & Gas.
This week saw the FTSE 100 (UKX) and most other European stock markets hit by volatile sentiment and a lack of concrete action over the eurozone crisis. Fortunately the oil price held firm, with Brent Crude remaining in the $103-$105 range all week. US benchmark WTI Crude behaved in a similar way and spent the week ranging between $87 and $90 per barrel.
As a result, the United States Oil Fund (NYSE: USO.US) was down just 0.03% on the week when US markets opened on Friday morning.
Gas prices proved less robust and ongoing supply surpluses along with BHP Billiton's substantial write-downs on its shale gas assets sent the price of gas below $3/mmbtu once more this week, leaving the United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG.US) trading 8% lower on Friday morning than at the start of the week.
A stable oil price isn't always enough protect the share prices of small oil and gas companies, whose fortunes depend heavily on their luck at the drill bit and speculative trading. Here are three of this week's worst performers -- including one surprisingly big name:
Ophir Energy (LSE: OPHR) fell 13% to 520p this week, in what many analysts believe is a rather harsh judgment on its latest drilling result, which found 0.5-2.0 trillion cubic feet of gas -- a solid success! The only problem was that traders have got used to Ophir outperforming expectations, whereas this time it didn't. Ophir remains a highly-rated company with a lot of solid assets and highly prospective resources. One to consider buying at this price?
Northern Petroleum (LSE: NOP) lost almost 7% to 65p this week in choppy trading that appear to have little underlying cause. Somewhat unusually, the company reconvened its recent AGM this week, but this may have been due to a procedural technicality, according to some reports.
Lansdowne Oil & Gas
Lansdowne Oil & Gas (LSE: LOGP) slipped 5.3% this week to 61p, with this week's RNS announcements suggesting that one cause might be an institutional shareholder taking profits after the company's share price doubled last month. Lansdowne's prize asset is its 20% stake in the Barryroe field in the Irish Sea -- but the company needs funding or a partner to fund its share of further development and investors are now facing a wait while they discover how this will play out.
Small oil and gas shares are always volatile, and this week's losers could be next week's winners. To learn more about how to select oil and gas shares with the potential to deliver outstanding multi-bagging profits, I strongly recommend you download the latest special free report from the Motley Fool, "How To Unearth Great Oil & Gas Shares". It's completely free and includes details of how to select shares and structure your portfolio to maximise your potential profits and minimise your risks. Hurry though, this new report will only be available for a limited time -- so download it today.
Are you looking to profit as a long-term investor? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is the latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- while it's still free and available.
Further investment opportunities:
> Roland owns shares in Lansdowne Oil & Gas but does not own any of the other shares mentioned in this article.