AN Aberdeen oil tools maker is ramping up capacity in a sign confidence has started to recover in the North Sea supply chain amid the recent crude price rally.

Titan Torque has made a six figure investment in specialised production equipment which it said would double its capacity.

The company makes tools used in drilling operations by firms that operate North Sea oil and gas fields and companies that provide support services.

Director Bruce Jepp said the investment reflected the privately-owned firm’s optimism about the strength and resilience of the market over the coming years.

Titan’s move could boost hopes that conditions are starting to improve in the oil services sector following the deep downturn triggered by the sharp fall in the crude price between June 2014 and early in 2016.

Oil and gas firms slashed spending on exploration and appraisal drilling and on efforts to increase production in response.

However, a range of firms including Shell, BP and Hurricane Energy have approved plans to develop North Sea fields in recent months.

The likes of Cairn Energy and Faroe Petroleum have shown confidence in the exploration potential of the UK by starting drilling operations this year.

US private equity giant Carlyle provided a dramatic vote of confidence in the prospects for the North Sea oil services market on Monday by agreeing to acquire Aberdeen-based EnerMech in a £450m deal.

EnerMech has a big North Sea business along with extensive overseas operations. It used acquisitions to help maintain strong growth amid the downturn.

Oil sold for around $80 per barrel yesterday, compared with less than $30/bbl early in 2016. Major exporters agreed late in 2016 to cut production to support the market.

Brent crude hit $115/bbl in June 2014, before growth in global production outpaced demand.