A North Sea industry chief has said 2018 would still be tough for UK subsea service companies, despite a positive start to the year.
Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said he hoped most of the pain and job losses of the downturn were now in the past.
Speaking at the plenary session of Subsea Expo 2018, Mr Gordon said it was time for the sector to look forward.
He said oil prices in the high $60 to low $70 range made a difference, while big cash windfalls reported in recent days by oil majors also helped.
Oil and Gas UK said earlier this week that North Sea oil would bring in £1billion in tax for the UK government this financial year, compared to nothing last year.
A recent report by research firm Rystad also gave grounds for positivity, with 13 North Sea field developments expected to be sanctioned this year.
But Mr Gordon said life would remain difficult for the supply chain: “It’s still a tough gig. Margins are tight. The recent announcements bode well for future, but what is the lag?” It might be next year before we see the benefit.”
He also called on the oil sector to get back to the “early days” of innovating and “doing things first”.
“We’ve got into a cautious culture,” he said. “Let’s take risks. Not to the detriment of health and safety, but let’s try things.
“The North Sea has been a test bed for many of this industry’s firsts and we need to retain that.
“The UK is still seen as a leader.”