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After hitting a near-term low of $33.87 (U.S.) a barrel in December, the price of crude oil has been on a strange course. The price doubled by the start of June, with investors beginning to price in higher energy demand as the global economy found its feet. Since then, though, oil has meandered: In nearly four months, oil has fallen about 4 per cent.

But how have energy stocks performed? The S&P/TSX energy subindex has performed considerably better than oil, rising 0.8 per cent since the start of June, after dividends are included, for an outperformance of about 5 percentage points.

The returns by big energy producers are clustered together, implying that there isn’t a big difference among them when the price of oil is flat-lining.

For example, Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) has fallen 2.3 per cent since the start of June, Canadian Oil Sands Trust (OTCQX:COSWF) has risen 2 per cent, EnCana Corp. (ECA) has risen 1.2 per cent and Talisman Energy Inc.(TLM) has risen 2.8 per cent.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Among the big energy producers, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ) stands out with its 11.7 per cent return.

Meanwhile, smaller companies – some of which are involved in energy exploration or production overseas – have been performing considerably better over this period.

Pacifiv Rubiales Energy Corp., which produces oil in Colombia, has soared 80.5 per cent since the start of June. Advantage Oil & Gas Ltd. (AAV), an intermediate producer in Western Canada, has risen 51.1 per cent. Crew Energy Inc. (OTCPK:CWEGF), an energy exploration company, has risen 40.7 per cent. And Trican Well Service Ltd. (OTCPK:TOLWF) has risen 34.7 per cent.

Source: Oil Going Off the Boil