IN recent months there has been tentative talk of a revival in the North Sea’s embattled oil and gas sector. Anyone who requires to be reminded about the damage wrought by the plunge in oil prices sparked in late 2014 need only look at Clyde Union’s latest accounts, however.

The Glasgow-based engineer, once part of Jim McColl’s Clyde Blowers empire, saw its losses widen dramatically in 2016 as the expected oil and gas recovery did not materialise. With investment by customers in upgrading and refurbishing assets failing to recover as anticipated, turnover slid by 39 per cent to £45.2 million.

And it is not just on the accounts that the downturn has taken hold. Clyde Union, which US-based SPX acquired from Clyde Blowers in 2011, had included a “post balance sheet event” in its 2015 accounts stating that, as a result of “delays to a number of larger value contracts”, 132 staff would be affected by a redundancy consultation launched in March of 2016. Ultimately, the cuts may have gone deeper than that, with the accounts for 2016 stating that average employee numbers at Clyde Union dropped to 402 from 547, a reversal of 145 on the year before.

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Given that, at the time of its sale to SPX, Clyde Union had nearly 900 staff on its books in Cathcart, many of whom will have been skilled engineers, the downward trend on jobs is surely a cause for concern.

However, with oil prices now showing signs of steady recovery, it is to be hoped that the worst is over for the firm.