Why the Woodside share price could leap higher in 2023

There are numerous factors that will impact the performance of the Woodside share price in the year ahead. Chief among those is the price of oil.

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Key points

  • The Woodside share price is in the green for 2023
  • The ASX 200 oil stock could benefit amid bullish forecasts on rising crude oil prices
  • Woodside appears closer to developing the $50 billion Sunrise gas field off Timor-Leste

The Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS) share price is up 0.98% in afternoon trade.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) oil and gas company closed yesterday trading for $36.05 per share and is currently trading for $36.405 apiece.

That's today's price action for you.

Now, here's why the Woodside share price could enjoy some heady tailwinds in 2023.

Tailwinds ahead for the Woodside share price?

There are numerous factors that will impact the performance of the Woodside share price in the year ahead.

Chief among those is the price of oil.

When crude oil topped US$120 in March 2022, ASX oil stocks rallied almost across the board.

Which brings us to some rather bullish forecasts for the oil price in 2023.

According to analysts at Goldman Sachs, the oil price is forecast to rise by some 20% amid new supply issues and diminishing spare capacity even as demand looks set to grow.

This comes as China reopens from its extended COVID lockdowns. It will see the world's most populous nation upping its energy requirements, while sanctions are likely to see much of Russia's oil exports slashed. 

And with new investments in exploration and production lagging, Goldman sees the price of crude oil heading back to US$100 per barrel. That's up from just over US$80 per barrel today.

According to Goldman Sachs analyst Jeff Currie (quoted by Bloomberg), "The commodity super cycle is a sequence of price spikes with each high higher and each low higher."

Should the next sequence see the price spike higher, as Currie expects, it should offer some helpful tailwinds for the Woodside share price.

What else is ahead for the ASX 200 oil stock?

After years of delays, it appears Woodside is closer to developing its joint venture Sunrise gas field.

Sunrise is located some 150 kilometres offshore of Timor-Leste and 450 kilometres from Darwin.

Woodside owns approximately 33% of the $50 billion gas field, with its joint venture (JV) partners Osaka Gas and the Timor-Leste government owning the rest.

Development of the gas field has been on the back burner as the partners debate the merits of constructing an LNG export plant in Timor-Leste. Woodside has opposed that proposal, citing higher costs involved than processing at existing plants in the Northern Territory.

Now, as The Australian reports, Woodside is reconsidering its opposition to that plan, with new modular technology potentially bringing the costs of constructing a plant in Timor-Leste down to a palatable level.

In a move that could offer a boost to the Woodside share price, the oil giant stated it will now conduct a new study alongside its JV partners with a "strong focus on delivery of gas to Timor-Leste". The company will compare how that plan stacks up against delivering the gas for processing to Australia.

"It is important we continue to look at ways to develop the Greater Sunrise fields using the latest technologies by evaluating, for example, modular LNG, that did not exist in the past," Woodside CEO Meg O'Neill said.

According to O'Neil:

Against a backdrop of global geopolitical instability and constrained energy supply chains, there is an opportunity for the Sunrise Joint Venture to significantly advance this regionally important project…

The Timorese are very keen to have that development in country and we recognise it is an important national project for them, so we feel like it's appropriate to reopen the concept evaluation, understand the technologies, understand the technical challenges.

Woodside share price snapshot

The Woodside share price has been a strong performer amid higher energy costs.

As you can see in the graph below, shares in the ASX 200 energy company are up 36% over the past 12 months.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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