Oil and Gas Survey : 30th Survey : May 2019

Fraser of Allander Institute, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce; (2019) Oil and Gas Survey : 30th Survey : May 2019. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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The oil and gas industry continue to face many uncertainties but five years on from the downturn the resilience of firms in the sector endures. Amid continued challenges, firms in the survey reported further rises in business confidence. At the time of writing (April 2019), oil prices are at their highest level in six months, currently standing at $75/bbl. The sector has responded to recent challenges, not least through driving efficiency improvements. Thirty new fields have come onstream since 2015 with an increase in oil production in 2018, up 9% on 2017 and the highest level since 2011. Forecasts of future potential oil and gas levels from the UK offshore industry have also been revised upwards amid forecasts that 11.9 billion barrels could be extracted by 2050, up from the estimate of 8 billion from four years ago. Outside of the energy sector, the wider outlook for the global economy looks more uncertain than it did just six months ago. Weakening growth in emerging markets – particularly China – and a general softening of confidence across most advanced economies have lowered growth forecasts for the next couple of years. Here in the UK and Scotland, the immediate outlook continues to be shaped by the ongoing Brexit process. With the UK’s exit from the EU now delayed until October, a further period of uncertainty is now guaranteed. One of the implications of this uncertainty has been a weakening in business investment across the economy. Business investment in the UK fell throughout 2018, the first time that this has happened since the financial crisis. It is therefore reassuring to see that companies in the oil and gas sector are forecasting growth in investment trends, with investment by North Sea operators and contractors continuing to pick-up after the downturn.