LONDON -- Oil prices have remained strong this week: Brent crude for February delivery was up 0.7% to $111.05 per barrel on Friday, while WTI crude was up 1.3% to $95.45 shortly before U.S. markets opened on Friday. U.S. natural gas prices have risen once more, and gas for February delivery was up by 4.7% at $3.52/mmbtu shortly before 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 2.3% to $34.67 since last Friday. The United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG ) has followed gas prices up and was 6.6% higher at $19.63 at the close on Thursday.
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.
Madagascar Oil (LSE: MOIL ) is up 13% to 22 pence so far this week following news of a funding deal that should enable it to raise $65 million from a new share offering at 18 pence. The company, which is focused on developing oil assets in Madagascar, was originally planning to raise between $45 million and $60 million but increased the size of the offering due to demand from existing shareholders. Madagascar Oil expects its Tsimiroro Steam Flood Pilot project to begin delivering meaningful production in 2013.
Carrizo Oil & Gas (NASDAQ: CRZO ) has gained 11% to $22.39 so far this week, following the publication of its 2013 spending plans. Carrizo plans to spend $500 million exploring its shale assets this year, including $385 million on the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas and $70 million on the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Carrizo plans to favor oil production of gas output, in order to benefit from higher oil prices.
Antrim Energy (LSE: AEY ) has gained 15% to 39 pence over the last month as investors have welcomed the company's growing production output, which should help fund its exploration program. On Monday, Antrim announced first oil from the Cormorant East field in the North Sea, which takes the company's working interest production up to around 2,200 barrels of oil per day (bopd). Antrim is also close to submitting the field development for its 11 million barrel Fyne discovery, in which it has a 100% working interest.
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