O&G upstream activities poised to get a boost

Petronas could allocate RM40bil-RM45bil in capital expenditure (capex) this year, in line with its five-year annual capex guidance, RHB Research said.

PETALING JAYA: Oil and gas (O&G) upstream activities should recover with greater momentum even though further downward revisions in crude oil demand by major agencies in the coming months can be expected.

This is mainly due to the re-implementation of lockdown measures in response to the emergence of new Covid-19 variants.

The upward revision of activities guidance in the latest Petronas Activity Outlook 2022-2024 report suggest recovery of upstream activities, said RHB Research.

Petronas could allocate RM40bil-RM45bil in capital expenditure (capex) this year, in line with its five-year annual capex guidance, it said.

That would mean a higher number of development projects – 90 brownfield and 42 greenfield versus last year’s 74 and 34 respectively, with more fields and to-be-developed stages and field development plans sanctioned for execution.

The sub-segments with higher activities in 2022 include semi-submersibles and drillships; pipeline installations (pipelay barges); hook-up and commissioning (HUC); maintenance, construction and modification and well decommissioning. The maintenance services-related players should benefit from higher work orders.

Petronas is targeting to kick-start domestic hydrogen projects by 2024, starting with blue, then green hydrogen. This new hydrogen venture suggests a new growth area.

O&G services and equipment players are encouraged to collaborate in scaling up their hydrogen businesses with Petronas.

The overall petroleum tanker market was weak in 2021 due to excess tonnage. RHB Research believes the turning point could materialise in 2022, given the anticipation of an economic recovery and a gradual increase in Opec+ oil production.

With the stabilisation of oil prices, the near-term outlook for local offshore fabricators could also improve, but cost management remains the biggest challenge. It said pipeline installations will spike in 2022. There are potentially 10km and 44km flexible pipeline installation requirements in 2022 and 2024 respectively. The total number of man-hours for HUC work is expected to increase by 34% to 6.3 million in 2021 and subsequently moderate to 4.5-5.4 million in 2023 and 2.9-4.1 million in 2024 – depending on the level of project maturity, it said.This implies significant upward adjustments from Petronas’ previous projections. If these projections materialise, it expects higher HUC revenues for the service players such as Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd, Petra Energy Bhd and Carimin Petroleum Bhd in 2022.

In its view, local upstream maintenance players, which are contracted under MCM contracts, include Dayang, Petra, Carimin, and Deleum Bhd, should see steady work flows in the next three years.

It said Uzma Bhd, being the main beneficiary of well abandonment, may still see slightly higher orders in 2022 in its view despite a significant downwards revision in projections.

There will also be higher marine vessel demand for drilling and projects in 2022. It would benefit players such as Perdana Petroleum Bhd, Alam Maritim Resources Bhd, Icon Offshore Bhd and Bumi Armada Bhd as local vessels are generally being prioritised.

The house maintains an “overweight’’ call on the sector. Its top picks of the sector are Petronas Chemicals Bhd and BAB. It has a “buy’’ call on both stocks with a target price of RM9.91 and 62 sen a share respectively.

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