Are you looking at natural gas as a way to play the consequences of the explosion on a Transocean oil rig working at a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico? The Fool can help you. Even if you're not enthralled with how oil's misfortune might boost natural gas, you'll find the topic cropping up as the Fool helps you with more mundane topics such as dividends and IRAs.

First up, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says the fortunes of seismic-data provider Dawson Geophysical (Nasdaq: DWSN) could be lifted as "a federally mandated moratorium on deepwater drilling ... could open the way for exploration of natural gas in shale deposits throughout the U.S. and Canada."

Dawson has a tip-top five-star rating in Motley Fool CAPS, but clocked in with a one-year return of negative 12%. Dawson reported a first-quarter loss per share of $0.35, which was considerably worse than the $0.20-per-share loss analysts had expected.

Here's a couple of other recent Foolish tidbits on natural gas companies:

Fool Dan Caplinger was talking about supercharging your IRA when he noted: "Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) and Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) are sitting on gluts of natural gas at the moment, and even with oil prices having regained a good chunk of their losses after the 2008 oil bust, natural gas is still lagging. That could make it a good way to play the future of the U.S. energy industry."

Fool Rick Munarriz's topic was dividend stocks that showed investors the money: 

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) [is] juicing up its dividend. The utility provider of electricity and natural gas is inching its quarterly rate 3% higher to $0.2525 a share. Xcel's goal is to bump its payouts 2% to 4% higher every year ...

The disaster in the Gulf has made buying and selling energy companies an exciting and possibly profitable endeavor. For some investors, the thrills (good and bad) being played out in the headlines might seem a sign to get clear of the companies. But as the Fools above have shown, each company has to be evaluated on its own, long-term merits. Fools shouldn't be scared of energy stocks just because of what's happening now in the waters off the U.S. coast.

Chesapeake Energy is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Dawson Geophysical is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy, Dawson Geophysical, and Devon Energy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Fool online editor Kris Eddy owns no shares of any stocks mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a stickler.