Oil and gas contractors are the most confident they've been in four years

Courtney Goldsmith
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Oil Platforms In The Cromarty Firth
North Sea oil contractors are feeling more confident (Source: Getty)

For the first time since 2013, nearly half of oil and gas contractors in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) are confident about their prospects, a report to be published today suggests.

Of the contractors surveyed, 49 per cent were more optimistic about their activities in the current year, up from 38 per cent in the spring.

The survey, conducted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce along with the Fraser of Allander Institute and KPMG, looked at work in the six months to October 2017.

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It comes as Brent crude oil prices sit at more than $60 a barrel, a price that hadn't been seen in around two years following the oil price crash in 2014.

“The underlying data suggests that rather than an industry with ‘cautious optimism’ we actually see a picture of significant diversity with some companies buoyant and performing well while others remain fragile," said James Bream, research and policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

He added that the worst is likely to be over, with 60 per cent of firms believing the industry has already reached the bottom of its current cycle and a further 24 per cent predicting this will happen within the next 12 months.

However, there is still a long way to go in terms of productivity levels. Only 27 per cent of contractors said they were working at or above their optimum levels in the UK. While that's up from the low of 12 per cent last year, it's nowhere near the 79 per cent peak in 2013, before oil prices crashed.

Moray Barber, partner at KPMP added: “That said, as the industry shifts its focus to driving increased performance and productivity from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), continued investment in recruiting and maintaining the best talent and skills, and making use of available transformational technologies will help to drive the industry forward, and with this survey demonstrating increased confidence for the year ahead, there is every possibility that the industry will continue to show resilience and deliver strong results during 2018 and beyond.”

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