Australia is in the middle of a huge gas boom, with somewhere in the order of $180 billion being spent on infrastructure for the sector at the moment.
It's not all plain sailing, though, with controversy erupting over the environmental sustainability of tapping coal seam gas deposits; and Woodside, the subject of this week's column, has met resistance from environmental, indigenous and community groups over its plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at James Price Point near Broome.
This week's chart has been produced by Gary Burton, a member of the Australian Technical Analysts Association and a broker with Wilson HTM. It shows the boom has by no means delivered big returns for long-term holders of Australia's largest independent oil and gas group.
Before the financial crisis, Woodside was at a high of $69.93 and, as the chart shows, a downward trend line developed, which is still in place. But it hasn't been a steady ride down.
After the fall from the pre-GFC high, a support level emerged at $40. The price fell through that level in June 2011, reaching a low at point 1 of $29.69 in September 2011. This was about $3 above the post-GFC low reached in November 2008 (not shown on this chart).
The price fluctuated over the next 10 months, making two more sharp drops at points 2 and 3. Burton says that when price movements make three lows in succession it is highly likely that a base price has been established. So far the chart confirms this view, as the price has risen considerably since then.
Indeed, it has established another small support level at $32.88, which has been tested a couple of times; and while this happened, an upper resistance level of $36.07 was established. The price broke through that early this year and for a time even went through the post-GFC downward trend line shortly before it went
Now the price has broken back through the $36.07 level and is back in the trading channel formed last July, with $32.88 again the support level. So, what can we expect from here?
As the line from point 3 shows, Woodside appears to be in an uptrend, although this has been tested in recent days. If there are further falls but the $32.88 support level holds, that will be a good sign. A move above $36.07 would represent "a strong buy signal", Burton says.
On the fundamental side, Woodside's profit jumped 24.5 per cent for the year to December 2012 on revenue up 32.2 per cent and its dividend yield is 3.7 per cent.
This column is not financial advice.