Oil and gas news emerged from Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB.L)Bowleven (LSE: BLVN.L) and Desire Petroleum (LSE: DES.L) this morning.

Royal Dutch Shell dropped 8 pence to 2,319 pence after admitting the "containment dome" aboard the Arctic Challenger barge had been damaged while conducting tests for the FTSE 100 (UKX) group off the coast of Alaska. Shell confirmed the time required to repair the dome, along with "steps to protect local whaling operations," will prevent any oil drilling in the area this year.

Elsewhere, Bowleven dropped 2 pence to 77 pence after providing shareholders with an update on its progress. In particular, the AIM-traded explorer said drilling operations had commenced on the IM-5 appraisal/development well on block MLHP-7 off the coast of Cameroon. Bowleven also said its objectives were to determine the reservoir and fluid properties of the Middle Isongo sands and explore the potential of the Intra Isongo reservoir sands.

Finally, Desire Petroleum climbed 0.25 pence to 25.5 pence after publishing half-year results that showed a $2 million loss and cash in the bank at $13 million. Desire emphasized the 14/15a wells off the Falkland Islands may hold 85 million barrels of oil and 178 billion cubic feet of gas, while reminding investors that its Elaine and Isobel prospects could carry oil resources 312 million barrels.

Small oil and gas shares can provide wonderful gains to investors smart enough to spot the potential winners in the sector. That's why The Motley Fool has created this free report to help you find them.

"How to Unearth Great Oil and Gas Shares" shows you how to evaluate an explorer's prospects and what to look for before buying. The report also highlights an area of the sector that could expand rapidly in the years to come.

Investing is by no means easy in today's uncertain economy. That's why we've published "The Market's Top Sectors" -- our guide to three favorable industries. This free report will be dispatched immediately to your inbox.

Further Motley Fool investment opportunities: