Frost & Sullivan: Equipment Demand Shifts to China

Frost & Sullivan reported that although the European and US markets will continue to present challenging conditions and limited growth potential for the oil & gas industry throughout 2010, the Middle East and Asia are expected to drive demand of equipment. The shift in demand from the US to China will affect equipment manufacturing, resulting in a higher number of orders covered by Asian manufacturers. For this reason, China and the Far East are widely seen as the motor for growth across the next few years for midstream operations, and Europe and the US for LNG and gas infrastructure.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Oil & Gas Industry -- Overview of Major Indicators, finds that despite continued price fluctuations in 2009, oil prices are expected to stabilize around US $80-85 for most of 2010, encouraging exploration and exploitation, slowing the decline of the global rig count and seeing many contractors looking to rekindle projects left on hold in 2008. "While the initial good news helps to improve the overall outlook, demand remains weak," argues Enguerran Ripert, Frost & Sullivan Consulting Analyst. "Capital markets remain rigid, commodity prices insufficiently stable and real demand growth still low."

Equipment manufacturers across the Oil & Gas market have been facing falling capacity levels and decreasing prices while the number of order inquiries has increased substantially. This is attributable to the continued volatility of raw material prices and to the uneven nature of the order book size. Because the distribution of available capacity is not even, many manufacturers are struggling to cover costs. "One possible outcome is consolidation across the industry, which is likely to increase in 2010, but also the signing of large framework agreements making the most of cheaper capacity," said Enguerran Ripert. "This hedging tactic can be beneficial for both parties, but is likely to happen with vendors already on the approved list of buyers."

The nuclear industry has cannibalized some of the value chain previously dedicated to the Oil & Gas sector driving some companies operating in both sectors to focus their investments on the nuclear sector. These realignments of manufacturing capacity have not yet had a major impact on the Oil & Gas industry, but if oil prices increase faster than anticipated, serious bottlenecks may be encountered at the equipment level. The lucrative nuclear industry also has high barriers to entry, and investments made towards it are only recouped slowly but over a longer period of time.