Growth for UK confirmed with oil and gas rise

RECOVERING fortunes for North Sea oil and gas helped to drive UK GDP into positive figures between January and March this year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed yesterday.

The ONS also confirmed that the UK economy had expanded by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter.

Growth for the mining and quarrying industry, which includes oil and gas, was revised up from a 3.2 per cent increase on the previous quarter to four per cent on the last three months of 2012 by the ONS. The end of 2012 saw prolonged maintenance work on rigs in the North Sea, causing production to contract by a torrid 10.7 per cent.

Though mining and quarrying generally remains below its previous highs, down 8.5 per cent on the year, it made a positive and crucial contribution to growth figures for the start of this year.

GDP growth also continued to be buoyed by services, especially in business and finance. The sector grew continually through 2012 when compared to 2011, and rose by 1.6 per cent on the year in the most recent quarter.

Manufacturing slipped slightly on the quarter, after a largely stagnant 2012.

Rob Wood, chief UK economist for Berenberg, acknowledged positive news but remained cautious “The economy will continue to struggle for the next few quarters,” he said.