WA companies reveal sector growth

DELOITTE'S latest WA Index released this morning reveals continued growth among producers, explorers and suppliers alike, with the valuations of Woodside Petroleum, 88 Energy and Imdex among last month's best performers.
WA companies reveal sector growth WA companies reveal sector growth WA companies reveal sector growth WA companies reveal sector growth WA companies reveal sector growth

Set in the background of these results was crude oil increasing by 14.4% to finish August at $US48.56 per barrel as investor hopes rose again of an agreement to restrict production coming out of upcoming OPEC talks.

There was also slight growth in the Chinese manufacturing sector, which Deloitte argued also helped to boost prices.

Woodside's market capitalisation rose by $1.769 billion (7.9%) as oil prices spiked during August and its half-year results revealed costs were cut by more than expected and its Pluto LNG plant was outperforming expectations, causing Woodside to increase its 2016 production guidance.

While its profit was halved compared to the first half of 2015 off lower oil prices, the focus has been on the growth in Woodside's portfolio, and the company delivered a major potential acquisition with an offer to buy ConocoPhillips out of its deepwater Senegal stake, including SNE, the biggest oil discovery of 2014.

While ConocoPhillips and Melbourne junior FAR have sparred over pre-emptive rights, Woodside CEO Peter Coleman told Energy News he's not particularly concerned and expects the deal to wrap up by year's end, saying "I don't think there are many chapters for this [saga]".

The company also departed from its strategy of increasing the portion of oil in its portfolio earlier this month to buy a half-share of BHP Billiton's interest in the remote Scarborough gas field in the Carnarvon Basin.

RBC Capital Markets said the deal appeared cheap at just $US15c/mcf of contingent resource, but is also reflective of the Scarborough, Jupiter and Thebe assets being a tough development given their isolation and the depth of the water, BHP's US focus regarding its petroleum investments and the medium-term LNG market oversupply.

Ultimately, RBC believes Woodside's move closer to its bailiwick in the Greater Carnarvon has merit given the low price and the potential future fit with the North West Shelf and Pluto assets.

While the longer-term ramifications of that deal will wash out later on, 88 Energy saw a sharp share price uplift from significant operational success during the half-year ended June 30, expanding its footprint by 172,000 acres helping to secure its first mover advantage in the onshore Alaska oil-rich region.

88E posted a 65.2% increase in market capitalisation from $A132 million to $218 million from the end of July to the end of August and has since announced plans to drill the Icewine-2 well as a cheaper vertical well at 100%.

Drilling products firm Imdex, meanwhile, has recovered strongly having copped a worse than expected 2015-16 fiscal year.

The company posted a 67% increase in market capitalisation from $97 million to $162 million, which mostly occurred early in August due to a general uplift in mining servicing companies, picking up traction with investors following a difficult period experienced in the past few years.

Imdex also released its annual results, with its mineral business performing well despite challenging conditions.

While the minerals division was strong with EBITDA of $23.9 million, the oil and gas division, which includes Australian Mud Company, made significant losses, although a large part was due to restructuring charges.

Sino Gas & Energy's valuation actually dropped in August from $132 million to $218 million, while GR Engineering rose slightly from $192 million to $202 million.

The troubled MMA Offshore received a much-needed boost from $110 million to $127 million in August after posting another loss, this time $144 million, for the H1 2016 thanks to impairments on its assets as demand for its vessel, supply bases and slipways continued their depressed state.

The August uplift was somewhat remarkable given it reported during the month that two of its vessels were out of work after one of its clients in Southeast Asia suspended a key contract and its Middle East contracts reduced.

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