PetroVietnam Look towards Block B Rigs and Oil Recovery as Savior

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September 23, 2015

PetroVietnam Drilling Mud (PVC), Oil & Gas Drilling Fluids


We initiate on PetroVietnam Drilling Mud (PVC), the monopoly drill fluid supplier in Vietnam, with an UNDER PERFORM rating and DCF-based TP of VND 16,600. PVC’s earnings – up to 95% derived from its drilling fluids – are expected to drop by 50% in 2015 and by 40% in 2016 as E&P budget cuts have reduced the number of wells to be drilled in Vietnam at similar rates. Consensus calls for little recovery in oil prices over the next two years…

…which leaves growth prospects on PetroVietnam’s USD 10 billion Block B project. This is an offshore gas field that boasts the 2nd largest natural gas reserve in Vietnam requiring 50-60 wells to be drilled per year over the next 10-15 years starting from 2017. That’s roughly the average no. of wells drilled per year between 2012 and 2014 in all of Vietnam. Nonetheless, while we acknowledge its prospects, we exclude Block B from our valuation until the contracts materialize. To be fair, initial work on Block B started in June 2015.

At closing price of VND 20,200 on 22 Sep 15, PVC is trading at PER of 8.1x VCSC FY15E EPS of VND 2,504. The current valuation is a 9.5% premium to the 7.4x avg of local oil & gas service suppliers, unjustified in our view, given the material decline in earnings over the next 2 years unless oil mounts a significant recovery or work on Block B ramps up sooner to warrant a forecast change.

Drilling fluid monopoly: PVC has two key entities: the first, “M-I Vietnam”, a joint venture between PVC (51%) and M-I Swaco (49%); the second, 100% owned subsidiary “DMC-WS”. M-I Swaco is a Schlumberger company, a leading oil & gas service major based in the US. Since establishment 23 years ago, M-I Vietnam has supplied drilling fluids for nearly all wells drilled in Vietnam. It has only been in recent years that some of the supply contracts, up to a fourth as of 1H15, have been shifted to DMC-WS. However, M-I Vietnam, which supplies proprietary drilling fluid formulations and systems (contributed by M-I Swaco) still delivers 60% of net profit after minority interest while DMC-WS contributes 37%. While PVC engages in other businesses such as chemical production and trading and other industry-related services that contribute up to about 44% of total revenue, they contribute less than 3% of profits.

Slump in oil squeezing demand to drill wells. The number of drilled wells in Vietnam was halved to about 60 in 2015 from 120 in 2014 and we see it dropping further to ~40 per annum from FY16 to FY19. We flag this number as one of the key indicators to model PVC’s earnings.

Block B to spur demand, could lift valuation by 41%. The USD 10 billion project has become the cornerstone of PetroVietnam’s master plan for national energy security. While we exclude it for now, we offer a scenario in this report where its inclusion would boost earnings CAGR to 25% for the FY16-FY19 period, lifting our DCF valuation up by 41% vs. the base case without it. The Block B project was officially kicked off in June 2015 with the groundbreaking of a new supply base in Phu Quoc to support initial exploratory drilling campaigns.

Company At A Glance


Financial Statements


Quarter Results


P&L Forecast


Supplier of 100% of drilling fluids used in Vietnam

PVC’s business is classified into three core groups (1) engineering and providing drilling fluids systems, (2) chemical-related technical solutions, and (3) petrochemical production and trading to O&G industries across the upstream, midstream and downstream parts of the value chain. Drilling fluids is the main business, accounting on average 56% of total revenue and 97% of net profit after minority interest between 2012 and 2014.


The fluid system is the “lifeblood” of the entire O&G drilling operation, which means the success of any drilling project begins with engineering the right fluid system for the job on hand.


The specific combination and amount of fluids used in each drilling campaign vary vastly depending on the geological conditions and requirements of O&G operators. Drilling fluids normally account for typically less than 10% of a well’s investment cost. We estimate PVC generated drilling fluid revenue of VND 27b per well based on its operations from 2012 to 2014. PVC supplied to about 20 different operators and 60 oil wells on average over the past five years.


Blended gross profit margin fluctuates with success of drilling fluids business. The drilling fluid segment offers the highest gross profit margin of 20%-30% to PVC, much higher than those of technical services (est. at 12%-15%) and petrochemical trading (3%-4%). In other words, an increase in number of wells drilled correspond to higher blended GPM, which has fluctuated from 15% to 20% in the period from 2011 to 2014, peaking at 19.5% in 2014 when PVC supplied fluids to 120 wells.


Raw materials and outside service cost account for more than 90% of PVC’s total cost, of which 50% was used for the drilling fluid business (further decomposition by business line is not provided). The biggest constituent of cost is outside service cost, which we believe is the cost of drilling fluids and chemicals purchased from PVC’s drilling fluid partner and outside suppliers, together with other expenses such as transportation and logistics among others.

Meanwhile, several of the key raw materials such as Barite, Bentonite, CaCO3 and Cement G used in the drilling fluid formulations are provided in-house by PVC’s chemical production division (see appendix for more info on this division, which contributes less than 1% to PVC’s earnings). Management states: “the chemical division produces around 50,000 tons of materials, of which roughly half is used in-house and the other half exported”.

100% market share dominated by PVC through two subsidiaries, DMC-WS and M-I Vietnam.


Dependence on M-I Vietnam poses a threat if M-I SWACO decides to withdraw from the venture. Nonetheless, in our view, this is not likely to occur. In the venture’s 20th anniversary of establishment in 2011, PVC and M-I Swaco signed another 10-year joint venture contract.

However, PVC will continue to focus on developing drilling fluids through DMC-WS. DMC-WS’s drilling fluids are mainly water-base fluids (WBFs), relatively simple and less expensive formulations compared to the oil-based and synthetic-based fluid formulations that M-I Vietnam owns. As such, DMC-WS have to purchase around half of the drilling fluid formulas from M-I Vietnam. DMC-WS thereby has lower profit margins than its sister company. PVC expects to get more drilling fluids’ formulae transferred from M-I Vietnam over the remaining duration of the contract.

Earnings outlook

FY15 will be a tough year

Global oil prices continue to be pressured. The impact of this situation is clear on Vietnam’s E&P activity. The number of jack-up rigs operating in Vietnam has dropped to about 9-10 rigs in the first half of 2015 compared to over 14 rigs in 1H14. Each rig can four to six wells annually. Meanwhile, most of the activity is being carried out by PetroVietnam’s wholly owned subsidiaries. A few foreign IOCs are still operating but their operations have definitely slowed down affecting demand for drilling fluids.

1H15 revenue decreased 14% while profit before tax slid 25% due to the numbers of wells drilled dropping by 50% to 60 wells. Flatting out a tax refund of VND 40b due to lower value-added-tax (VAT) of 5% vs. original estimate of 10% during FY11-14, PBT would be 41% lower vs. 1H14.


We do not expect 2H15 to be much better to 1H15 given further reduction in rig count from 10 to 9 rigs. In sum, FY15 NPAT is expected to arrive at VND 144b, 89% of management guidance. In the recent analyst meeting, PVC disclosed that they are working with the tax authority for another potential tax refund, but given that the amount is unknown, we have not factor this extraordinary income to our FY15 forecast.


Continued declining streak in FY16

FY16 continues to be difficult. Our forecast for Brent oil is at USD50/bbl for FY16, USD 5 lower than our FY15 estimate. We assume there will be about 10 JU rigs operating in offshore Vietnam, which is equivalent to circa 40 wells drilled for PVC to supply drilling fluids services. Hence, FY16 revenue and NPAT are forecasted to drop by 15% and 53% respectively vs. FY15.

Dividend Policy

PVC maintains its FY15 dividend policy at VND 1,200/share same as FY14, translating to dividend yield of 5.9% and payout ratio of 48% (VCSC FY15 EPS of VND 2,504). PVC currently has capital expenditures for two projects at Cai Mep plant and Barite mine at Laos with FY15 CAPEX guidance of VND 63.1b, and we assume the same capex of VND 60bn p.a. during FY16-19. Having factored current CAPEX and post dividend plan in our 5-year forecast, PVC still has year-end cash balance of VND 490b or approx. VND 9,805 per share on average over the next five years, which would allow it to sustain the current dividend amount.

Huge potential from Block B – O Mon project from FY17

Block B will spur upstream activity in Vietnam. PetroVietnam acquired Chevron’s stakes in two production sharing contracts (PSCs) offshore Vietnam, including Block B, 48/95 and Block 52/97, called Block B in short. As a result, now PetroVietnam is the operator of Block B project with average stake of 70%.

Block B development is seen as the “saviour” of the oil & gas industry. We estimate Block B will require rigs to drill 50-60 wells p.a. These will be incremental wells adding to the forecast of 40 drilled wells for other oil & gas projects. The price of drilling fluids service for Block B’s wells are forecasted to be as just 37% of normal ones due to shorter drilling times, i.e. 7-10 days at Block B vs. 2-3 months at other wells. As a result, FY16-19 CAGR in revenue comes in only at 7% but CAGR in NPAT will reach up to 25% with more expected contribution of Block B’s drilling fluid demand. Otherwise, the respective growths are only at 2% and 7% during FY16-19.


Discounted cash flow valuation

Base scenario: Exclusive of Block B contribution
We conducted a 5-year DCF valuation model based on the following key assumptions:
– Without Block B catalyst, we project FY16-19 CAGR of NPAT is at 7% due mainly to limited E&P activity.
– WACC is calculated at 13.1% based on market risk premium assumption of 7%, a risk-free rate of 5.5% and beta of 1.1.

Best scenario: Block B contribution leads fair value upwards by 41% from base scenario
We conducted a 5-year DCF valuation model based on the following key assumptions:
– Block B drilling campaign from FY17 will bring PVC additional jobs of 50 drilled wells p.a. in 10-year horizon.
– WACC assumption remains same as in base case.

Peer comparables



Exposure to E&P activity, a two edge-sword. The positive is that PVC has the potential to be involved throughout the O&G value chain. However, it also means that its fortunes are tied to any slowdown due to low oil price environment.

Delay of Block B Gas Development: Block B is the main to lift PVC’s earnings from FY17 onwards so any deferment will blur the company earnings’ visibility. Nonetheless, we see peg a low probability that Block B will be delayed because it is a priority project to ensure national energy security.

Drilling fluid business remains greatly dependent on M-I Vietnam. Most of PVC’s profit has always come from M-I Vietnam subsidiary while PVC still relies on its partner, M-I SWACO, for drilling fluid technology and formulae. For years, M-I Vietnam has been the main profit contributor of PVC and the “big brother” in helping PVC to develop drilling fluids services in Vietnam. PVC has only a 51% stake in M-I Vietnam and is only able to consolidate earnings at this proportion. The existing partnership agreement until 2022 ensures the steady earnings stream for PVC and until then PVC is expected to gain more technology and formulae transference.

rading loss. PVC is an exclusive distributor of polypropylene (PP) for Dung Quat refinery in the north and central market, averaging about 15,000-20,000 tons per year. The consumption of PP in FY14 faced a lot of difficulty amid the low oil-price induced downturn in PP prices. Therefore, PVC incurred an inventory provision of VND 20b (equivalent to 4.4% of pre-provision profit) at year end.


Drilling fluids


Chemical-related technical solutions

Aside from supplying drilling fluids engineering, PVC also provides chemical-related technical solutions (about 12% of revenue and 2% of NPAT-MI), including chemical and services supply bases, E&P research and consultancy, industrial cleaning services, environment monitoring and treatment. Most of these activities are under market developing stage and have not contributed materially to total revenue. Notwithstanding, we believe this segment will contribute more in PVC’s future outlook as chemical production is being limited by raw material scarcity.

Capture higher oil cleaning demand. The rise in numbers of refineries and petrochemical plants (Appendix 6) oil tankers and production vehicles – FPSO/FSO (Appendix 7) creates a favourable “eco-system” for PVC to expand its technical services.

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) service. After many years of production, several oil fields such as Bach Ho, Rong have been in the declining stage which requires EOR service to boost up production yield and utilize the remaining oil. PVC contracts with VietSovPetro, Japan Vietnam Petroleum Company and Cuu Long Joint Operating Company to seize this new ad-hoc demand.

PVC operate two chemical and service supply bases both located in Vietnam’s O&G hubs. Dung Quat Chemical Supply Base serves as a chemical depot supplying to Dung Quat refinery and other petrochemical plants in the area while Services Supply Base in VietSovPetro port provides all aspects of drilling fluids for VietsovPetro (VSP) and other O&G operators.

Petrochemical production and trading

Representing 31% revenue but only 1% of NPAT-MI, chemical production and trading is seen as a supporting business for drilling fluids as circa 48% of annual production volume is for internal production of drilling fluids. The remainder is exported.

Petrochemicals production. PVC has been buying raw ores from mines in the north of Vietnam, refining the ores and then selling the refined minerals. These refined minerals, namely Barite, Bentonite, Cement-G, Safe cab, Calcium Carbonat, can be further processed into drilling fluids and other chemical products or traded on their own. Despite its tiny proportion in PVC earnings, these in-house chemicals are essential ingredients for drilling fluids system production and O&G technical activities.

Production bottleneck. PVC’s current Barite and Bentonite mine sources have been depleting rapidly. PVC has not been able to ramp up its current with production volume nearly flat since 2007, averaging 50,000 tons p.a. Of note, in FY14, due to the expiration of its Barite exploitation license, PVC produced for only 8 months. There were undisclosed issues with the license renewal process but it was eventually sorted out by end of 2014.


Seeking an alternative Barite mine in Laos. As an effort to secure raw mineral sources, PVC has invested 30% stake in an USD3.0m Barite exploitation and production project in Sanavakhet (Laos) through a joint venture named DMC-VTS. The barite exploitation scheme and the processing plant have started since Jun-15, which is expected to produce 50,000 tons p.a. for 10-15 years, which would replace PVC’s current mine in Bac Kan.

Petrochemicals trading. PVC either produces to export or trades refined basic minerals (mainly Barite and Bentonite) and other drilling chemical products used for (1) drilling fluids system, i.e. about 22,000 tons of self-produced Barite was exported to Singapore, Middle East, Canada or Argentina, etc. in FY14, and the remaining sold to its subsidiaries in drilling fluids, (2) oil exploitation process, (3) oil refinery, (4) environment treatment & industrial cleaning and (5) for other industries. PVC is also one of the distributors of petrochemical products produced by downstream players in Vietnam, such as PP plastics granule from Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical (BSR) and fiber from PVTEX Dinh Vu.

Policy risk for mineral production together with depletion of mine reserves. After the issuance of Decree 15/2012/ND-CP (implementing guidelines for Mining Law), PVC faced difficulties in looking for new mines for petrochemical production, like CaCO3 in Nghe An or Barite in Phu Tho, as well as renewal of its Barite production license in Bac Kan. Meanwhile, Circular 41/2012/TT-BCT of Ministry of Industry and Trade regarding mineral exports also pushed PVC to invest in the processing stage. To mitigate policy risk of mineral production shortage as well as reserve running-out, PVC is expected to put the Barite mine in Laos into operation starting in 2H15. This will ensure in-house for the drilling fluid business.


Recommendation History


VCSC Information

VCSC Rating System & Valuation Methodology

Absolute, long term (fundamental) rating: The recommendation is based on implied total return for the stock defined as (target price – current price)/current price + dividend yield, and is not related to market performance. This structure applies from 27 May 2015.
Unless otherwise specified, these performance parameters only reflect capital appreciation and are set with a 12-month horizon. Future price volatility may cause temporary mismatch between upside/downside for a stock based on market price and the formal recommendation, thus these performance parameters should be interpreted flexibly.
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Valuation Methodology: To derive the target price, the analyst may use different valuation methods, including, but not limited to, discounted free cash-flow and comparative analysis. The selection of methods depends on the industry, the company, the nature of the stock and other circumstances. Company valuations are based on a single or a combination of one of the following valuation methods: 1) Multiple-based models (P/E, P/cash flow, EV/sales, EV/EBIT, EV/EBITA, EV/EBITDA), peer-group comparisons, and historical valuation approaches; 2) Discount models (DCF, DVMA, DDM); 3)Break-up value approaches or asset-based evaluation methods; and 4) Economic profit approaches (Residual Income, EVA). Valuation models are dependent on macroeconomic factors, such as GDP growth, interest rates, exchange rates, raw materials, on other assumptions about the economy, as well as risks inherent to the company under review. Furthermore, market sentiment may affect the valuation of companies. Valuations are also based on expectations that might change rapidly and without notice, depending on developments specific to individual industries.


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