Offshore drilling activity around the UK rose marginally during the first quarter of 2012, compared with the same period last year, according to new oil-industry figures.
But, while the year-on-year performance was up, there was a 15% decrease on the final quarter of 2011.
In addition, the average number of wells spudded was down by 42% when compared with the first quarters of each of the past five years.
The report, by professional service firm Deloitte, documented drilling and licensing across north-west Europe between January 1 and March 31.
It said 11 wells had been spudded on the UK continental shelf during this period, two more than in the first quarter of 2011.
Speaking before the launch of the report, Deloitte analysts said the findings pointed to a more positive spell ahead for UK oil and gas.
Graham Sadler, managing director of Deloitte’s petroleum service group, said: “More recent figures indicate an increase in drilling into the spring, with seven spuds in March after a total of four in January and February.
“Furthermore, the tax-relief measures announced by the (UK) Government in last month’s Budget have been welcomed by the industry and this may result in renewed confidence over the course of this year.”
He said it was too early to make predictions but the increased fiscal stability and high oil prices should lend themselves to an increase in drilling going forward.
Mike Tholen, economics director at industry body Oil and Gas UK, said: “We need to see further sustained growth in exploration activity throughout the coming year if we are to maximise recovery. The Budget 2012 announcements to extend certain field allowances and measures to provide the industry with assurance of tax relief on decommissioning costs should help.”