LONDON -- This week saw the FTSE 100 and most other European stock markets hit by volatile sentiment and a lack of concrete action over the eurozone crisis. Fortunately, the oil price held firm, with Brent Crude remaining in the $103 to $105 range all week. U.S. benchmark WTI crude behaved similarly and spent the week moving between $87 and $90 per barrel.
As a result, the United States Oil Fund
Gas prices proved less robust, and ongoing supply surpluses, along with BHP Billiton's substantial writedowns on its shale gas assets, sent the price of gas below $3 per MMBtu once more this week, leaving the United States Natural Gas Fund
A stable oil price isn't always enough to protect the share prices of small oil and gas companies, whose fortunes depend heavily on their luck at the drill bit and speculative trading. Here are three of this week's worst performers -- including one surprisingly big name.
Ophir Energy fell 13% to 520 pence this week in what many analysts believe is a rather harsh judgment on its latest drilling result, which found 500 billion to 2 trillion cubic feet of gas -- a solid success! The only problem was that traders have come to expect Ophir to beat forecasts, whereas this time it didn't. Ophir remains a highly rated company with a lot of solid assets and highly prospective resources. Is it one to consider buying at this price?
Northern Petroleum fell almost 7% to 65 pence this week in choppy trading that appears to have little underlying cause. Somewhat unusually, the company reconvened its recent annual general meeting this week, but this may have been due to a procedural technicality, according to some reports.
Lansdowne Oil & Gas
Lansdowne Oil & Gas slipped 5.3% this week to 61 pence, with this week's RNS announcements suggesting that one cause might be profit-taking by an institutional shareholder after the company's share price doubled last month. Lansdowne's prize asset is its 20% stake in the Barryroe field in the Irish Sea -- but the company needs funding or a partner to fund its share of further development, and investors are now left to wait and see how this will play out.
Small oil and gas shares are always volatile, and this week's losers could be next week's winners. To learn more about how to select oil and gas shares with the potential to deliver outstanding multibagging profits, I strongly recommend you download the latest special free report from the Motley Fool: "How To Unearth Great Oil & Gas Shares." It's completely free and includes details on how to select shares and structure your portfolio to maximize your potential profit and minimize your risks. Hurry, though -- this new report will only be available for a limited time, so download it today.
Are you looking to profit as a long-term investor? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is the latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- while it's still free and available.
Further investment opportunities:
Roland owns shares in Lansdowne Oil & Gas but does not own any of the other shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.