What’s going on with the share prices of Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy, Santos and Oil Search?

Four of the ASX’s leading energy producers, namely Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL), Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG), Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) and Oil Search Limited (ASX: OSH) are all lower today despite Wall Street enjoying a late session rally overnight thanks to a jump in the oil price.

According to reports, the 3% jump in the oil price overnight came in response to news that Venezuela (a major oil producing country) said it would hold talks with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in an attempt to stabilise the oil price.

With the share prices of Woodside, Origin, Santos and Oil Search having all bounced off their recent January lows but still down significantly over the past 12 months, the question for contrarian investors now is whether the cyclical lows have been reached?

It’s of course impossible to know, however, we’re certainty much closer to the bottom than we were 18 months ago!

One person who remains positive on the long term prospects for Australian energy producers is the group chief economist at energy giant BP, Mr Spencer Dale.

According to a report published in Business Spectator, Mr Dale believes “there’s a surplus of energy for a while and prices will reflect that”…”but the long-run economics I think look pretty good.”

Mr Dale’s comments centre around the outlook for Asian LNG demand – a product which the above four companies are leveraged to – and while the price they receive is tied to oil, it’s the dynamics of the global gas market, which BP believes will be the fastest growing fossil fuel over the next 20 years, which has Mr Dale excited.

With all four of Australia’s major energy producers leveraged to this growth in Asian demand for gas supplies, investors with a long term horizon may find that if they look past the near term oil market volatility, there could be value to be found in these four energy stocks.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur owns shares in Origin Energy Ltd. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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