ONGC’s natural gas segment to do well as gas prices rise

By: | Published: June 22, 2018 1:07 AM

India's LNG imports were flat m/m in May but rose 17% y/y, boding well for PLNG where Dahej unit was also steady at ~110% in April/May.

ONGC’s natural gas segment to do well as gas prices rise

India’s LNG imports were flat m/m in May but rose 17% y/y, boding well for PLNG where Dahej unit was also steady at ~110% in April/May. We keep our BUY as we do on Gail where earnings risks appear skewed on the upside even if trans. volumes do rise materially NT and valuations are inexpensive. Expectations are modest for ONGC too where higher oil and gas prices would lift earnings in FY19E even if subsidies cap realizations in domestic oil assets and HPCL.

ONGC and Reliance promise a material surge in domestic gas supplies over time but for now rising past the decade old plateau of 90mmscmd is still proving to be a challenge. Production slipped 0.8% m/m in May, eg., as 2.7% m/m lower output at ONGC offset gains at JVs. Oil India and CBM was flat.

Flagging gas production is unhelpful for ONGC but with every 1% impacting EPS by 0.2%, other factors matter more. In particular, higher oil prices bode well for its deregulated domestic JVs and petro-product segments and ONGC Videsh driving earnings higher even if realizations from domestic oil assets are capped at $50-55. With the stock also at 9.5x FY18 P/E when Brent averaged $57, valuations appear to adequately factor in risks of subsidies which we expect the OMCs to shoulder too in FY19E. Over time, we expect ONGC’s natural gas segment to do well too as gas prices rise 10% in 2HFY19E. Blended realizations could head even higher when the deep-water 5.5 mmscmd S1/V project, where it qualifies for prices that are more than twice that in its other fields, stabilizes later in FY19E $1/mmbtu- 9-10% for EPS.

Still, we expect PLNG to weather these challenges well helped by its low tariffs and LT contracts at Dahej and Kochi. Indeed, some 16mt of overall volumes appear secure.

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