ASX oils stocks are bucking the trend today – with the S&P/ASX Energy Index (XEJ) rising by 2.63 per cent in afternoon trading, despite a sell-off in most other sectors.

Staples and utilities indices are the only other two sectors gaining today. The IT sector saw the biggest plunge of 1.83 per cent , and the healthcare index falling by over 2 per cent.

The moves mimicked the moves in the US overnight, as  investors are processing the wider implication of US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s comments. The chairman said he was not overly worried about inflation, and wanted to maintain the current easing in monetary policy.

OPEC’s surprise move

Energy stocks are however reacting to moves in oil prices, which jumped by more almost 5 per cent overnight following a surprise outcome of the OPEC meeting.

Analysts have been expecting OPEC to reverse the output cuts it made last year. Instead, the cartel approved the continuation of exisiting cuts for another month or two, until April or May – which took the market by surprise.

Prior to the meeting, Saudi Arabia who is OPEC’s de facto leader, had already sounded off warnings and encouraged other members to remain “extremely cautious” in lifting the cuts.

ASX oil stocks that gained today

Back home, all three ASX big guns rose – Oil Search (ASX:OSH) by 4.28 per cent, Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) by 2.43 per cent, and Santos (ASX:STO) by 4.39 per cent.

A handful of small cap oil stocks have also benefited from the news.

Exilir Energy (ASX:EXR)

Exilir’s share price rose by over 10 per cent today.

The company is working on an oil field at the Chinese border in Mongolia, and recently announced it was targeting 13 new wells in 2021. It has also recently proven the potential of its Mongolian acreage foray after the first well at its Nomgon IX CBM well was declared a coal seam gas (CSG) discovery. CSG is natural gas sourced from coal deposits and typically requires fracture stimulation to produce commercially.

Vintage Energy (ASX:VEN)

The company’s stock price has risen by 4 per cent today.

Vintage is a company listed in 2018, and has interests in the Cooper, Otway, Galilee, Perth and Bonaparte basins. It’s currently drilling the sidetrack of its Vali-1 well, which has already observed oil shows in the shallower Westbourne and Birkhead Formations. The company expects production to start in the first half of 2021.

Real Energy (ASX:RLE) and Pure Hydrogen (ASX:PH2)

Real Energy and Pure Hydrogen’s shares have both risen by 12 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

In a merger update between the two, Real Energy advised today that the Federal Court of Australia has approved the merger scheme, and the commencement of trading for Pure Hydrogen shares on the ASX is slated for 18 March 2021.

Real Energy merged with Pure Hydrogen Corporation (formerly Strata-X) to form a listed company called Pure Hydrogen. The combined company will be an Australian east coast focused hydrogen and gas businesses with 5 hydrogen projects under development.  The gas projects are located in the Cooper Basin, Australia’s most prolific onshore producing petroleum basin, and the Surat Basin in Queensland.