Demand for flexible workers in the UK oil and gas sector is showing signs of slowing down, according to a new study published by Oil and Gas UK.

The latest Well Services Contractors Report analysed the state of the industry and how it has evolved during the last year and found that talented contractors with specialist knowledge of well services were increasingly sought after in 2014; however, the rate of growth has since slowed.

This trend is probably due to the crash in oil prices during the first quarter of the year, which resulted in Brent crude oil falling to a six-year low of just $47.36 (£27.99) a barrel. This reduction meant that many oil and gas firms reduced their headcount, which has had a knock-on effect on the number of opportunities for contractors in the industry.

The flexible workforce is now being urged to transfer its skill set to other fields, including industry, to secure work; however, companies specialising in well services are still prospering despite the downturn, with gross revenue increasing by 1% to £1.97bn between 2013 and 2014.

Oil and Gas UK’s operations director, Oonagh Werngren, said: “Throughout the first half of 2014, it was clear that well services contractors continued to benefit from the high level of investment in the UK continental shelf which occurred in 2013. In the latter half of 2014, however, a number of companies reported a slowdown in the demand for their services and expect this trend to continue in 2015.”

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