PETALING JAYA: While oil prices have been on the rebound track, oil and gas (O&G) activities should head for a recovery, albeit on a gradual basis.
It’s not only a combination of factors like disruption in supplies, which has been keeping the price buoyant, but also the all-round feel-good belief that economic recoveries are on the horizon, thanks to ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programmes globally.
But, observers warned of downside risks and investors would do well to be selective on their stock picks.
TA Research told its clients, in a note yesterday, that over the medium to long-term, as oil price which has hit close to US$70 (RM290) per barrel maintains steady traction, it would compel oil companies to escalate capital expenditure (capex) spend.
“Evidently, oil companies are recognising the need to turn their capex taps back on, including Petronas, ” it said adding that 2025 spending is expected to surpass 2021 by some 36%.
“We believe that order flows for pure-play O&G upstream contractors like Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Bhd, Pantech Group Holdings Bhd, Uzma Bhd and Velesto Energy Bhd are primed for recovery in the medium term, ” TA said.
Notably, crude oil prices have been on a rebound this year helped by supply disruptions caused by weather issues as well as the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countires or Opec’s decision for output cuts.
In its report to clients, Kenanga Research said it did not expect to see activities recovering to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels any time soon, but the slow recovery will be more than sufficient to keep contractors afloat.
The research house has a 2021 crude assumption of US$65 per barrel and there were downside risks to oil prices (possibly even dipping below the US$60/barrel mark), given still fragile demand-supply dynamics and inevitability of Opec increasing production during the year, due to its record low production capacity utilisation.
“Nonetheless, despite downside risks to oil prices, we believe that Brent crude prices hovering within the range of US$55 to US$65 per barrel is healthy enough to sustain a rebound in activity levels, ” said Kenanga.
The research house told clients that it is maintaining a “neutral” call on the sector, given the limited upside for big-cap Petronas-named counters such as Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd and Petronas Dagangan Bhd but is increasingly optimistic on contractors given the anticipated recovery in activity levels.
Kenanga, in the same report also said in terms of value-chains, there was a possibility for brownfield players (including Uzma Bhd) and hook-up and commissioning firms (including Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd) to see a resumption of work orders in 2021 after facing numerous job delays in 2020.
Meanwhile, global floating production storage and offloading providers like Yinson Holdings Bhd may also benefit from the resumption of tendering opportunities in the coming years, amid the lack of bidding competition in the international scene, it said.