SINGAPORE (Oct 24): Credit Suisse is maintaining its “overweight” on the local offshore & marine sector as its expects an improvement in new orders to drive re-rating.

“Our preferred picks are Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Marine,” says lead analyst Gerald Wong in a Tuesday report.

SembMarine has been selected as Shell’s preferred bidder for the engineering, production, and construction (EPC) contract for a semisub production platform at the Vito oil development in the US Gulf of Mexico.

The contract covers the construction of both the hull and topsides and their integration, and could be awarded upon the final investment decision (FID) of the project in early 2018.

“We expect the value of the contract to be worth at least US$500 million ($681 million),” says Wong.

In addition, SembMarine is well positioned to win one or more of the four packages for Maersk's Tyra gas hub, which is expected to achieve FID by end-2017 and award expected in early 2018.

On the other hand, Keppel is likely to be the frontrunner for the topside integration contract for the Petrobras Sepia FPSO due to its established operations at BrasFELS, after Modec was awarded the charter contract.

Notification to proceed for the Golar Gandria FLNG conversion is also expected in the coming months.

“While we have seen Keppel's orderbook recovering to $3.9 billion in 3Q17 from $3.4 billion in 2Q17, we believe a growing tender pipeline for production units and gas solutions could lead to more orders for Singapore yards,” says Wong.

Meanwhile, Shell is expected to issue bid documents for its Bonga South West FPSO project in the next few weeks, with Singapore yards potentially chosen as subcontractors by FPSO lease players.

As at 4.25pm, shares in SembMarine are trading 2 cents lower at $1.84 or 48 times FY17 earnings while Keppel is down 3 cents at $7.38 or 13.3 times FY17 earnings.