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North Sea oil and gas operators to lay off 'one in six' UK-based workers

Oil and gas operators in the North Sea plan to lay off one in six UK-based workers this year as industry confidence remains low, a new report has found.

Confidence within the oil and gas industry remains low Credit: PA

The latest oil and gas survey is the "most negative" yet, according to a partner at its sponsors, law firm Bond Dickinson.

The report also found three-quarters of North Sea oil and gas contractors are "less confident" about their prospects than they were a year ago.

However, confidence levels have marginally improved from their record low in November.

Operators surveyed reported a 15% fall in UK staff in the past 12 months and expect a further 17% of staff to lose their jobs this year - almost triple the 6% predicted six months ago.

Six months ago I described the 23rd Oil and Gas Survey as the most negative we had experienced. Unfortunately this, the 24th survey has surpassed it. The uncertainty which all those in the industry face at the moment regarding their livelihoods continues and any slowdown in the shedding of jobs does not appear to be materialising.

– Uisdean Vass, oil and gas partner at Bond Dickinson

For contractors, the 12 months to March 2016 saw a 13% reported weighted average reduction in their UK-based headcount.

About one in four companies (24%) said their top priority is cutting costs while 42% cited increasing efficiency and productivity as their main concern.

The joint survey by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and the Fraser of Allander Institute found 14% of contractors reported working at or above optimum levels in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) compared to 79% three years ago.

The level of demand, commodity price and economic climate are cited as the top factors limiting activity in the North Sea and 42% of firms expect to reduce investment in the next two years, while 12% plan to increase it.