China and oil under the spotlight in 2015

THE resources sector will face strong headwinds this year, but baseline support from China should provide some relief from volatile commodity prices.
China and oil under the spotlight in 2015 China and oil under the spotlight in 2015 China and oil under the spotlight in 2015 China and oil under the spotlight in 2015 China and oil under the spotlight in 2015

In its annual Horizons report, research firm Wood Mackenzie said oil would be a key theme to watch in 2015 and China would remain in the spotlight as its economy switches gear.

"As China continues to evolve, the transition from one phase of growth to another is likely to be choppy, with market volatility as a result," Wood Mackenzie said.

"However, over the short term, the critical factor to watch is the rise of the consumer versus the weakness of industry.

"If China moves into the tertiary, less energy intensive phase of its development, then commodity demand will be structurally lower for the medium and likely long term."

Analysts said retail sales had outpaced industrial production in China in recent years and the real estate sector had slowed.

The transition to consumption-led growth is still in its early stages, however, and infrastructure development still has a long way to run.

The rise of the consumer is also a key issue in Japan, but with its "frightening" debt to GDP ratio Wood Mackenzie said that nation could be on the verge of a sovereign debt crisis.

Despite the macroeconomic pressures, analysts said China was still driving a massive demand for commodities.

"A structural change to China's economy is not necessarily a disaster scenario for the metals and mining industry," analysts said.

"China remains a colossal source of demand and the call on mined output will remain strong."

One area likely to face further pressure is the coal sector, with China taking a twin-pronged approach to environmental protection and support for domestic companies.

"Australia is already suffering and could see further mines close," Wood Mackenzie said.

Elsewhere, slowing gas demand growth has raised concerns China will struggle to adsorb contracted LNG, but analysts said the long term picture remained compelling.

The strength of oil demand would also be a major concern and Wood Mackenzie said there would be further volatility before the market found balance.

On the corporate side of the energy sector, analysts said valuations were now heavily discounted and a true buyer's market could be emerging.

"Companies are weighing up options and distressed sales could precipitate the emergence of a buyer's market in 2015," they said.

"Those with the financial strength to withstand weak prices will be well positioned for the next cycle."

  • NEW: Digital version of PNG Report magazine - View here
  • Porgera: Barrick-PNG talks go on - Read more
  • Follow the companies investing in the PNG market - Read more