NORTH Sea drilling heavyweight KCA Deutag is to draft in advisers to help the firm weigh up its options as it faces challenges amid the lingering fall out from the crude price plunge.

Ratings agency S&P has revised its outlook on Aberdeen-based KCA Deutag to negative from stable.

In a research note about KCA Deutag, S&P said: “The oil and gas drilling market remains challenging and there are no obvious signs of a recovery over the coming quarters.”

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Noting that KCA Deutag has around $1.9 billion (£1.5bn) debt facilities maturing between 2021 and 2023, S&P added: “We see a greater risk that the company will launch a distressed exchange offer--offering debtholders of a lower cash value than the original par amount.”

Asked about the note, a spokesperson for KCA Deutag said: “The future capital structure of the business is of course a key area of focus.”

The spokesperson added: “As a result, we have been in regular discussion with our Board and we are now in the process of appointing advisors to assist us on reviewing the strategic options available to the Company.”

KCA Deutag employs around 570 people in total in Aberdeen and its UK North Sea operations.

The firm developed out of the Abbot Group which Alasdair Locke sold to US private equity firm First Reserve for £906 million in 2007.

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It operates drilling facilities in oil and gas markets around the world.

The group increased earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation to $74.4m in the three months to June 30, from $50.3m last time.

In its second quarter results announcement, chief executive Joseph Elkhoury said: “The market remains a highly competitive one and our customers continue to maintain a low pricing environment.”

Brent crude sold for around $62.70 per barrel yesterday afternoon. It fell from $115/bbl in June 2014 to less than $30/early in 2016.

Pamplona Capital Management took control of KCA Deutag in 2010 amid the fallout from the global downturn triggered by the financial crisis of 2008.

Mr Locke has interests in sectors ranging from oil services to gin distilling.