[LONDON] The number of contractors employed in Britain's oil and gas sector has fallen over the past year at the steepest rate since at least 2004, an annual industry survey carried out by a Scottish business association showed on Thursday.
The Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce estimated overall employment in the oil and gas sector fell 6 per cent in the year to September 2015, with 62 per cent of companies providing services to the sector, also known as contractors, saying they had cut staff over the period. "This is probably the most negative survey we have ever had," said Uisdean Vass, oil and gas partner at law firm Bond Dickinson, which sponsored the survey.
Britain's oil and gas sector has lost over 5,000 jobs since late 2014 as a slump in oil prices has severely squeezed oil companies' budgets and led to project cancellations.
The North Sea has been hit particularly hard as costs are typically higher in the mature basin where many fields are approaching depletion.
Contractors' business confidence in the sector hit the lowest level since the survey started in 2004 and the outlook for next year remained firmly in negative territory. "We have reached a new historic low level of industry confidence. It is also clear that things will continue to be extremely challenging in the year ahead," the Chamber said in its report.
Only 24 per cent of contractors who responded to the survey said they had hired new staff, compared with more than 70 per cent a year ago.
The survey did not provide an overall number of contractors employed in the oil and gas sector.