Oil & Gas

Hunting seeks to grow presence in North Sea

IMPROVING: Hunting said an increasing number of rigs in UK waters was boosting its well-completion unit

Energy service firm Hunting said yesterday it wanted to increase its presence in the North Sea to take advantage of rising activity.

It said well-intervention operations on the UK continental shelf were recovering from historic lows, adding that an increasing number of rigs in the region was also boosting its well-completion unit.

It came as Hunting chief executive Dennis Proctor said the company was operating in line with expectations, but that he remained cautious in the short term because of tough economic conditions across the world.

His comments led to Hunting’s share price falling 6% to 757.5p.

Hunting employs more than 3,750 people worldwide, including around 300 at Portlethen, 70 at Fordoun and 15 in Aberdeen.

In yesterday’s statement, the UK firm said its well-completion facilities in Scotland “remain active with improving opportunities driven by the increasing rig count”. On well intervention, it said Hunting Stafford, its subsea connection and valve platform, reported improved trading in the final quarter of the year, adding: “Demand for its product offering has increased the order book over recent weeks, as new projects in the global subsea arena are planned and sanctioned.

“Hunting Stafford is also exploring new initiatives to increase its presence in the North Sea, as activity in that region recovers from historic lows.”

Mr Proctor said: “Hunting continues to trade in line with its expectations for the full year and with its strategy to globalise its broad portfolio of products and investment in the manufacturing and distribution footprint of the group. Global offshore drilling continues to improve with Hunting supplying products to a number of major exploration and development projects which is offsetting some of the US land-based rig reduction.”

In the first half, Hunting reported turnover of £406.9million, a 62% rise on the same period last year. Operating profits were up 86% year-on-year at £41million, while pre-tax profits rose 70% to £37.6million.

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