The UK's oil and gas contractors are finally growing more confident in the opportunities offered by the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) following a challenging few years for the sector.
According to the results of the 27th Oil and Gas Survey carried out by the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, the Fraser of Allander Institute and KPMG, almost half (49 per cent) of limited company contractors working in oil and gas are optimistic about their prospects for the coming months.
Although this may not sound like an especially high proportion, it marks a significant upswing in confidence over the past six months, as just 38 per cent of contractors reported optimism in the spring edition of the survey.
The rise of decommissioning work in the UKCS has contributed to much of this optimism, with 83 per cent of oil and gas contractors reporting that they expect to be involved in opportunities relating to this area in the next three to five years.
Meanwhile, more than half (54 per cent) of contractors expect to be involved in work to generate more renewable sources of energy, using their transferable skills.
Overall, 36 per cent of oil and gas firms said they expect to increase their headcounts over the next 12 months, which is good news for the sector's limited company contractors and freelancers.
James Bream, Research and Policy Director at the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, commented: "The underlying data suggests that, rather than an industry with 'cautious optimism', we actually see a picture of significant diversity, with some companies buoyant and performing well, while others remain fragile.
"It does look like the worst is likely to be over at an aggregate level, with 60 per cent of firms believing that the industry has already reached the bottom of its current cycle."
What's more, the poll found that a further 24 per cent of oil and gas firms believe the difficult times will come to an end within the next 12 months, after which time contractors can expect a renewed increase in demand for access to their skills.