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Goldman Sachs ratings lift exploration sector

NEW YORK (AP) -- Several oil and gas exploration and production companies saw their share prices rise on Tuesday after Goldman Sachs said the sector looks attractive.

Analyst Joseph B. Stewart wrote that he's expecting oil prices of $100 to $110 per barrel for the next several years, and natural gas prices of $4 to $4.50 per million British thermal units. And, with improving business conditions and company-specific factors driving growth, the group should perform well even without extra help from rising commodity prices, he wrote.

Stewart started coverage with "Buy" ratings on four companies: Oasis Petroleum Inc., Approach Resources Inc., Bonanza Creek Energy Inc., and Gulfport Energy Corp.

Stewart wrote that the "best ideas" are Oasis, which will soon have 480,000 acres in the Bakken area of North Dakota, Montana and Canada, and Approach Resources, which is strong in the Permian basin in West Texas.

Oasis rose $2.27, or 5 percent, to $47.21 in afternoon trading. Approach Resources was up 69 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $26.20.

Gulfport Energy, jumped $2.68, or 4.4 percent, to $64.19 and Bonanza Creek Energy, rose $1.06, or 2.3 percent, to $50.56.

Several others in the sector rose, too. Athlon Energy Inc. was up $1.04, or 3.3 percent, to $32.20; Denbury Resources Inc. rose 58 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $17.78; and Whiting Petroleum Corp. rose $2, or 3.6 percent, to $58.24.

WPX Energy Inc. got a "Sell" rating, and its shares fell 22 cents to $18.77.