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) -- Energy stocks continue to dominate small-cap action amid rising crude oil prices. Investors have been bidding up companies that do not have exposure to Libya and other troubled spots, but stand directly to benefit from higher oil prices.

On Thursday, the stock of natural gas and oil producer

Royale Energy


was seeing unusual activity, shooting up 47% to $5.29 on heavy volume.

The California-based company announced late Wednesday that it had received regulatory approval to commence production on the Goddard #2 well. Production has already commenced at 10,000

million cubic feet per day. A third well is expected to commence production later in the week. Together the three wells will drive company's production to its highest level in a decade, the company said.

Kodiak Oil & Gas


was another notable gainer among energy stocks, rising 5.7% to $7.23 after it announced record year-end 2010 proved reserves quantities. Kodiak's estimated total proved reserves at December 31, 2010 were approximately 11.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBoe), as compared to 4.5 MMBoe at December 31, 2009. The 2010 reserve mix is 87% crude oil and 13% natural gas, as compared to 86% crude oil and 14% natural gas for 2009.

Blue Dolphin Energy



Pyramid Oil



Helix Energy



Abrax Petroleum


were all gaining smartly in mid-day trading.

Shares of oil tanker

General Maritime


were up nearly 6% to $2.69. Oil tankers are expected to benefit from higher rates as violent turmoil hits Libya and possibly other oil-producing nations.

Northern Dynasty Materials


saw its stock gain 13% to $19.90 after it said that a preliminary assessment of its pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project found it "economically robust" and with "the potential to meaningfully enhance global production of copper, gold and molybdenum."

Capstone Turbine


was gaining 8% to $1.46 after it received a follow-on order for microturbines that will provide prime power to processing facilities and metering stations at the Eagle Ford shale play in South Texas.

Shares of

SatCon Technology

( SATC) were rebounding on Thursday, adding 6.7% to $3.78. The stock plunged 27% on Wednesday after it reported a fourth-quarter loss and a weaker-than-expected forecast for the current quarter. SatCon lost $3.2 million, or 3 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting a profit of 4 cents per share.

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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