LONDON -- Oil prices recently retook some of their recent losses, though they're down slightly today. Brent crude is down about 1.5% to $109.74 per barrel. U.S. WTI crude has remained weaker and is currently down just 1.67% to $90.36, having touched a low of $89.89 on Thursday morning.
Natural gas for November delivery has had a strong run recently, having breached $3.40 per MMBtu, though today it's down 3.17% to $3.42/MMBtu.
Many investors prefer to invest in commodity ETFs rather than directly in futures, and the United States Oil Fund (NYSE: USO) , having started the week with a spike past $34.50, is now down to $33.46. The United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG) is up on last week, though it has started the day down 2.35% at $22.07.
The nature of oil and gas companies' businesses means that they may succeed or fail regardless of oil prices. This week's risers have all made gains well in excess of the oil price over the last few months.
Genel Energy (LSE: GENL.L)
Genel Energy has gained 25% to 778 pence over the last three months, as political and operational progress in Kurdistan has brought the prospects of large-scale oil production and export closer to a reality for the company, whose CEO is ex-BP boss Tony Hayward. Kurdistan's status as a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq means that political problems are the main stumbling block to successful development.
Afren (LSE: AFR.L)
Afren shares have risen by 59% to 137 pence so far this year, and like Genel, it looks likely to benefit from Kurdistan's massive oil reserves. Afren is currently carrying out exploration drilling in the Ain Sifni PSC in Kurdistan. The company's previous well in this area encountered 460 meters of net pay and delivered more than 13,000 barrels per day under initial testing. Afren is also developing previous discoveries in Nigeria.
Gulfport Energy (Nasdaq: GPOR)
Gulfport Energy has gained 69% to $31.16 over the last three months, outperforming the United States Oil Fund ETF by 56%. The company is gaining confidence in its Utica Shale drilling program and has recently been upgraded by brokers Global Hunter Securities from "accumulate" to "buy," with a target price of $43.
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