Oil and gas insolvencies treble as prices plunge

Development activity in the North Sea
Development activity in the North Sea
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THE number of insolvencies of UK oil and gas services companies has trebled in the last year amid the huge fall in oil prices, according to a new report.

Accountancy firm Moore Stephens said 18 businesses have become insolvent this year, compared to just six in 2013 which it described as “significant” as insolvencies in the sector have been rare over the last five years.

The number of insolvencies this year represents more than three times the average number of insolvencies in the sector in the previous four years, said the report.

The drop in oil prices is triggering cost cutting across much of the sector and the reduction in capital investment means less work for oil and gas services companies, according to Moore Stephens.

Jeremy Willmont, head of restructuring & insolvency at Moore Stephens, said: “The fall in the oil price has translated into insolvencies in the oil and gas services sector remarkably quickly. The oil and gas services sector has enjoyed very strong trading conditions for the last 15 years, so perhaps they have not been quite so well prepared for a sustained deterioration in trading conditions as other sectors would have been.”

Dozens of new development projects in the North Sea and Europe are at risk of being shelved as oil majors tear up their investment plans, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Wood MacKenzie, the energy consultancy, said 32 potential schemes containing 4.9bn barrels of oil equivalent are waiting on approval on nearly $90bn of funding, the newspaper said.

The oil and gas sector is big business for Yorkshire’s manufacturing industry and is responsible for up to 16,000 jobs according to official statistics.