During the week ended March 23, the stock market was crushed thanks to a looming trade war with China, but energy stocks largely held their own, particularly in the oil and gas space.
Some subsectors, including North American exploration and production, petroleum refining and oilfield services actually ended the week in the green.
"We're not fans of moral victories, but against the backdrop of the broad stock market having one of its worst weeks in quite some time last week, we energy folks are encouraged that our sector held its ground (on a relative basis) in admirable fashion," Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. analysts said in a Monday morning research note. "Expecting flurry of updated energy company investor presentations this week, to which we'll be paying close attention, but in general, it feels like the mantra of capital discipline/return of capital will continue to be front and center, much as it was during Q4'17 earnings season."
And that capital discipline is among the the tell-tale signs of an upcoming period of solid stock performance among oil producers, Goldman, Sachs & Co. analysts noted late last week.
According to Goldman, the oil sector is leaving a period of contraction, which began with the commodity downturn in 2014, and entering a period of so-called restraint, where concerns around the impact of electric vehicles and peak oil demand materially increase the risk premium on long-term oil prices, leading to a restraint on investment and creating high barriers to entry.
Historically speaking, it is a myth that oil producers perform best in rising oil price environments, Goldman argued. Instead, it is periods of restraint that see the greatest stock performance, as expansionary phases typically involve cost inflation and inefficiencies that dilute returns.
In this environment, Goldman expects international oil majors, which the firm identifies as big oil's Seven Sisters, to separate themselves from the pack of U.S. and international E&Ps, especially when it comes to long-cycle oil and gas projects. The market typically shows a reluctance to funding these projects during periods of restraint, giving international oil majors the edge on securing these investments.
Goldman defines the Seven Sisters as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) - Get Report , Chevron Corp. (CVX) - Get Report , Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A) , BP plc (BP) - Get Report , Total SA (TOT) - Get Report , Eni SpA (E) - Get Report and Statoil ASA (STO) .
"Like the 'Seven Sisters' of the 1950s, these global Majors are once again dominating complex, long lead time developments in non-OECD countries, locking in higher returns, better fiscal terms and a more reliable global oil services supply chain," Goldman's Michele Della Vigna, Neil Mehta, Brian Singer and Peter Hackworth wrote.
"We see  as the start of a new Golden Age for Big Oil's reborn Seven Sisters, but also a favourable environment for returns in the commodity, which stand to benefit from positive roll."