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LONDON -- This week's stock market turbulence and eurozone woes have not dampened the enthusiasm of investors in high-profile oil and gas exploration companies.
Investors will be encouraged by apparently stable high oil prices -- both Brent and WTI crude remained in a fairly tight price range this week, with Brent staying firmly above the psychologically important $100 level. As a result, the United States Oil Fund (NYSE: USO ) looks set to end the week broadly unchanged and was down just 0.03% on the week when U.S. markets opened on Friday morning.
Gas prices have not proved quite so robust, and the United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG ) was down by 8% on the week at 10 a.m. EDT Friday after natural-gas prices slumped below $3 per MMBtu on Thursday.
Here are three of this week's top-performing junior oil and gas shares:
Rockhopper Exploration (LSE: RKH.L )
Rockhopper Exploration gained almost 10% to 194 pence this week following the publication of its latest investor presentation on July 31. The presentation presented a bullish and confident outlook for the Sea Lion field and Rockhopper's new partnership with Premier Oil, and investors seem to have overcome their initial shock at the level of dilution required to seal the deal.
Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE.L )
Cairn Energy gained 8.7% to 298 pence this week despite announcing that the first of its Norwegian North Sea wells was dry. A dry well usually causes a slump in price, but Cairn managed to avoid this. The well was not a big deal for a company Cairn's size, but it has been some time since it had any drill bit success.
Gulf Keystone Petroleum (LSE: GKP.L )
Gulf Keystone Petroleum climbed almost 7% to 207 pence this week, with sentiment helped by the news that Total has become the third supermajor to purchase stakes in oil exploration blocks in Kurdistan despite the risk of angering the main Iraqi government, which continues to threaten companies entering Kurdistan with expulsion from southern Iraqi oil fields.
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Further investment opportunities: