We take a look at big gainers Genel Energy, Afren and Gulfport Energy Corp.
Oil prices have regained some of last week's losses this week, with Brent crude on the November contract up 1.2% on last Friday's close, at $112.72 per barrel on Friday morning in London. US WTI crude has remained weaker and is currently down just 0.6% on last Friday's closing price, at $92.50, having touched a low of $89.89 on Thursday morning.
Natural gas for November delivery has had a strong week and is up 9.4% on Friday morning after big gains on Wednesday, at $3.31/mmbtu.
Many investors prefer to invest in commodity ETFs rather than directly in futures, and the United States Oil Fund (NYSE: USO.US) was down by 7% on the week at $34.16 when US markets closed on Thursday. The United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG.US) fared better and was up by 5.7% on the week at $21.
The nature of oil and gas companies' businesses means that they may succeed or fail regardless of oil prices. This week's risers have all made gains well in excess of the oil price over the last few months.
Genel Energy (LSE: GENL) has gained 25% to 778p over the last three months, as political and operational progress in Kurdistan has brought the prospects of large-scale oil production and export closer to a reality for the company, whose CEO is ex-BP (LSE: BP) boss Tony Hayward. Kurdistan's status as a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq means that political problems are the main stumbling block to successful development.
Afren (LSE: AFR) shares have risen by 59% to 137p so far this year and, like Genel, it looks likely to benefit from Kurdistan's massive oil reserves. Afren is currently carrying out exploration drilling in the Ain Sifni PSC in Kurdistan. The company's previous well in this area encountered 460 metres of net pay and delivered more than 13,000 bopd under initial testing. Afren is also developing previous discoveries in Nigeria.
Gulfport Energy Corp
Gulfport Energy Corp (NASDAQ: GPOR.US) has gained 69% to $31.16 over the last three months, outperforming the United States Oil Fund ETF by 56%. The company is gaining confidence in its Utica Shale drilling programme, and has recently been upgraded by brokers Global Hunter Securities from accumulate to buy, target price $43.
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> Roland owns shares in Genel Energy but does not own any of the other shares mentioned in this article.