Oil prices have performed well this week: Brent crude for February delivery was up 1% to $111.43 per barrel on Friday, while WTI crude was up 2.4% to $92.70 shortly after U.S. markets opened on Friday. U.S. natural gas prices have fallen once more, and gas for February delivery was down by 5.3% on the week at $3.25/mmbtu shortly after U.S. markets opened on Friday.
Many investors prefer to invest in commodity ETFs rather than directly in futures, and holders of the United States Oil Fund (NYSEMKT: USO ) have seen their shares rise by 2.2% so far this week, leaving them trading at $33.76 shortly after U.S. markets opened on Friday. The United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG ) has followed gas prices down and was 5.6% lower at $18.36 in Friday trading.
The nature of oil and gas companies' businesses means that they can succeed or fail regardless of oil prices. This week's risers have all outperformed the price of oil by a big margin over the last month.
Providence Resources (LSE: PVR ) has climbed 18% to 640 pence since Dec. 21, following a positive update reminding investors that the firm had a very successful year in 2012. Providence has three exploration and appraisal wells planned in the Irish Sea for 2013, including one in the highly prospective South Porcupine Basin. Investors will be hoping that Providence manages to repeat the success of its Barryroe discovery, which is now moving into development.
TransAtlantic Petroleum Ltd (NYSEMKT: TAT ) has gained 27% over the last five days. The firm, whose main production assets are in Turkey, recently published its 2013 guidance, saying that it expects to spend more than $100 million on exploration drilling and deliver production output of between 5,000 and 5,700 boe per day this year, approximately 60% of which will be crude oil. TransAtlantic's location on the edge of Europe means that its gas is more valuable than domestic U.S. natural gas -- in the third quarter of last year, the firm's average realized price for gas was $7.96/mmbtu, nearly three times the Henry Hub natural gas price.
YPF SA (NYSE: YPF ) has climbed 31% to $14.86 since the start of December, following confirmation of a $1 billion deal with Chevron to develop Argentina's shale oil resources, which have been estimated at 23 billion barrels of oil and 774 trillion cubic feet of gas by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. State-owned YPF needs outside assistance to help it realize the potential of the country's resources and the initial 100-well program is a pilot for a much larger program that YPF believes could lead Argentina to become an energy exporter within five years.
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