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    Oil and gas executives prepare to spend as industry confidence rises

    News // January 23, 2012

    Oil and gas industry leaders have forecast improved performance and higher levels of capital expenditure this year, despite concerns over global economic instability, according to a new report on the future of the sector.

    Increased investment across the industry will focus on exploration activity, with North America emerging as the area with the greatest opportunities in 2012.

    Big Spenders: The outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2012, is the Economist Intelligence Unit’s second annual industry barometer, commissioned by GL Noble Denton, an independent technical advisor to the industry with considerable insight into many of the issues faced by those operating in the oil and gas sector.

    82 per cent of the 185 board-level directors and industry policy makers surveyed for the report are either highly or somewhat confident about the business outlook for their company, compared with 76 per cent last year. Just 8 per cent of those polled described themselves as pessimistic over performance in 2012.

    Findings from the research also show that nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of executives plan to invest either somewhat or substantially more over the next year, in contrast to 49 per cent in 2011. 41 per cent of industry professionals expect to see increased investment in exploration activities over the next year, with only 4.3% anticipating a decline.

    There remains a caveat, however; if global economic conditions deteriorate, oil and gas companies will have to scale back their spending commitments where they can do so without creating damage to their wider portfolios, according to the report.

    Other key findings from the research, as reported by the Economist Intelligence Unit, include:

    • Rising operating costs emerge as the top barrier to growth. More than 50 per cent of respondents say that they expect there to be an increase in wages over the next 12 months. 54 per cent of respondents also expect the cost of contractors to increase, compared to only 11 per cent anticipating a decline.
    • Risk remains a key challenge. An overwhelming majority of respondents - 82 per cent -either strongly or somewhat agree that regulatory issues have become more  important in the post-Macondo period. Increasing regulation is regarded by more than 30 per cent of respondents as the main challenge for their company over the next 12 months.
    • Skills shortages are becoming more acute. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s research, this issue comes out of the survey as one of the major obstacles to growth over the next 12 months. Last year, skills issues came fifth on the list of barriers  and were only identified as a top three issue by 25 per cent of respondents. This year, the issue  has risen to second on the list, and has been identified as a key barrier by 34 per cent of  respondents.

    Pekka Paasivaara, member of the GL Executive Board, said: “The second annual Economist Intelligence Unit oil and gas industry barometer sends a clear message: Companies are preparing to spend big in 2012, despite a slower growth in demand for oil and gas during the second half of last year, and concerns over the future of the global economy.

    “But this doesn’t mean that our clients are sanguine about their prospects for the year ahead. Findings from the report highlight a wealth of barriers to success, from rising operating costs to the worry of an impending shortage of skilled professionals and an uncertain regulatory environment in the post-Macondo era.

    “While capital expenditure looks set to take off, industry leaders will need to invest selectively this year, keeping operating risks low during a period of prolonged uncertainty. Their success will be defined by an ability to develop innovative approaches to operating more safely, efficiently and sustainably than ever.”


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