Oil prices could return to $60 per barrel next year as global demand doubles, experts have predicted.
A paper from Barclays Corporate Banking insisted there are “growing signs of hope on the horizon” for the oil and gas sector.
Oil now retails at just under $45 per barrel, compared to $114 in June last year, with the fall having forced many North Sea operators to cut jobs.
The Barclays research said the industry was “facing one of the most challenging periods in its history” but said there was reason for hope.
“While the general short-term picture for the North Sea may appear stormy, there are growing signs of hope on the horizon, which may trigger an eagerly-anticipated recovery,” the report states.
It predicted oil prices would rise to $50 per barrel by the end of this year, and then go on to $60 next year.
It said demand had already tripled since last November, going from 700,000 barrels a day to 2.1 million barrels a day a movement “due mainly to the elasticity in price and consumer reaction” and predicted that the upwards trend would continue with demand reaching four million barrels a day next year.
Walter Cumming, head of oil and gas at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “There is no doubt that the UK North Sea oil and gas industry is under pressure right now but we do feel signs of relief are there, and the forecast for $60 oil in 2016 with oil demand growth above trend again is encouraging.”
He added: “We believe the North Sea still has a viable future.”