Belfast Telegraph

Record numbers of oil and gas companies go bust as price slump bites

The number of UK oil and gas companies going insolvent has reached an all-time high following the slump in prices, a study shows.

A total of 16 businesses became insolvent last year, up from two the year before, and none in 2012, said accountancy firm Moore Stephens.

Despite a recent increase, the slump in the price of oil from 120 US dollars to just under 50 US dollars a barrel for most of the past year has continued to hit businesses, said the report.

Oil and gas sector insolvencies have increased around the world since the fall in prices but smaller North Sea operators faced particular stresses, the research found.

Jeremy Willmont, of Moore Stephens, said: "The collapse of the price of oil has stretched many UK independents to breaking point.

"The last 15 years has seen a large increase in the number of UK oil and gas independents exploring and producing everywhere from Iraq to the Falkland Islands.

"Unless there is a consistent upward trend in the oil price, conditions will remain tough for many of those and insolvencies may continue."

The report added that North Sea oil producers faced further "headwinds" from the cost of decommissioning offshore rigs.