LONDON -- Oil prices have remained fairly settled this week. Brent crude on the December contract was down by 0.25% on the week at $112.66 per barrel shortly after U.S. markets opened on Friday, while demand for U.S. WTI crude was firmer, opening today 1.9% higher on the week at $93.14.
Natural gas for November delivery has also gained, and was up by 0.5% to $3.60/mmbtu when U.S. markets opened on Friday, after rising firmly on Thursday.
Many investors prefer to invest in commodity ETFs rather than directly in futures, and the United States Oil Fund (NYSE: USO) was up by 1.3% on the week at $34.34 when U.S. markets opened today. Meanwhile, the United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG) was broadly unchanged, down by 0.7% at $23.01.
The nature of oil and gas companies means that they can succeed or fail regardless of oil prices. This week's risers have all outperformed the price of oil by a big margin during the week:
Murphy Oil (NYSE: MUR) gained 8% to $63.21 this week -- a large gain for a $12 billion company -- as investors showed their approval of its decision to follow peers Marathon Oil and ConocoPhillips in spinning off its downstream activities into a new company, Murphy Oil USA. The company also announced that it would pay a $2.50 per share special dividend on Dec. 3 and begin a $1 billion share buyback plan.
President Energy (LSE: PPC.L) has gained 6% this week to 21.75 pence. The gains follow a successful £31 million fundraising at the start of October needed to fund President's "farm-in" of two exploration blocks in Paraguay. According to the company, the deal is potentially transformational, adding that the blocks have a "gross risked recoverable resource potential" of greater than 150 million barrels. President's shareholders will be hoping the momentum continues -- the company's shares remain 39% down year to date.
Carrizo Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: CRZO) is up 8% to $28.19 so far this week, following news that it has sold the majority of its acreage in the Utica Shale play for $43 million. Carrizo retains a 10% interest in the play, which is primarily located in Ohio. The deal brings the total value of Carrizo's divestments so far this year to $294 million. Carrizo also owns 15% of the Huntington field in the North Sea, which is expected to begin production later this year.
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