Oil prices were on the move this week as fear rose that the events in Cyprus would damage the European economy. For the week, Brent crude was down 1.14% to $107.66 and WTI crude was up 1.5% to $93.71. U.S. natural gas was up 1% to $3.93.
This week's best two energy stocks
This week's energy-stocks leader was Nordic American Tankers (NYSE:NAT), up 18.2% to $11.15. While the stock had a one-month gain of 24.2%, it's down 27% over the past 12 months. On Wednesday, the company announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire a double-hull Suezmax tanker, its 21st ship, for $55 million. Shipping tanker companies were hammered the past five years as high rates caused a boom in shipbuilding, leading to a massive oversupply and a precipitous decline in dayrates. While Nordic American still continues to post losses, the company is in a good position if rates rebound, and Wednesday's acquisition shows that management is confident in the future.
Second among oil and gas stocks today was Abraxas Petroleum, up 11.7% to $3.11. The exploration and production company reported 2012 earnings and an operational update last Friday. While the fourth-quarter results were mixed, CEO Bob Watson reiterated management's guidance for 2013: "Strong production volumes in February and early March, along with incremental well performance and the efficiency gains in the Eagle Ford, give us confidence in our 2013 guidance of 4,900-5,200 boepd on a $70 million capex budget."
This week's worst energy stock
The worst performer on the week was Harvest Natural Resources (NYSE:HNR), down 34.5% to $3.71. On Tuesday, Harvest filed with the SEC a notice that it will file its annual report late because of certain errors in its financial statements and said it will have to "revise and possibly restate its financial statements for certain periods in 2010, 2011, and 2012." The company also said it expects a net loss of approximately $9.6 million, or $0.26 per diluted share. Scariest of all, the company announced that when it does file its annual report, "our auditors have informed us that their opinion will include a going concern qualification." In layman's terms, the auditors are going to include a warning that the company is not in a condition to continue operating for the following year. While Harvest Natural Resources has significant assets, with everything going on in Venezuela, it remains to be seen if they will ever be able to sell them.
There were a few big pieces of news in the U.S. energy space this week.
Schlumberger reported weaker-than-expected drilling activity in the U.S. during the first quarter. The news was further confirmed on Friday as the Baker Hughes rig count fell for the third time in the past month, now down to 1,746, 11.2% less than at the same time last year.
On Tuesday, Hess (NYSE:HES) announced that it had sold 43,000 acres in South Texas for $265 million to Sanchez Energy. This is important to note, as that figure was way below analyst estimates for the value of the acreage. It's also bad news for others in the area, particularly Chesapeake Energy. Analysts are revising downward their valuation for Chesapeake's holdings in the area to $600 million, below previous estimates of more than $1 billion.
A major find was announced in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday by a partnership including ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), Anadarko Petroleum, Cobalt International Energy, and Marathon Oil. The find was at the group's Shenandoah appraisal well, which found 1,000 feet of net pay. Analysts expect the well to be able to produce between 500 million and 1 billion barrels of oil over its lifetime.
Lastly, on Thursday, BP (NYSE:BP) announced that it had completed the sale of its stake in TNK-BP to Russian energy firm Rosneft for an 18.5% stake in the company plus $4.5 billion. In the meantime, on Friday BP announced an $8 billion share buyback, roughly the same amount the company had invested in TNK-BP.