OIL services giant Petrofac is increasing its presence in Aberdeen after winning multi-million dollar North Sea contracts as it prepares to enter the US shale market.

Petrofac said it is “actively growing” its engineering team in Aberdeen after winning a three-year contract to provide engineering and construction services in the North Sea.

The company is investing in technology related to brownfield projects, which often involve boosting production from existing fields.

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Petrofac did not provide further details. However, the company’s decision to beef up its engineering operation in Aberdeen provides a notable vote of confidence in the prospects for the North Sea from a big player in the market.

Petrofac is thought to employ around 900 people in Aberdeen and 2,000 working offshore in the North Sea.

The engineering contract win provides a further sign that conditions are improving in the North Sea following the long downturn triggered by the crude price plunge from 2014. Oil and gas firms slashed spending on upgrades and new developments in response.

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The partial recovery in the crude price since late 2016 has encouraged oil firms to start investing in North Sea projects again.

The contract is one of three North Sea awards announced by Petrofac yesterday, which are worth around $90 million in total.

However, conditions have been brighter in areas with lower operating costs than in the North Sea such as the onshore shale fields of the US.

Petrofac announced yesterday that it has bought a US oil services firm that is active in that market, W&W Energy Services, for an initial $22m. W&W is focused on the giant Permian basin, which extends from Texas into New Mexico.

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Petrofac said the deal gave it an entry-level position in the US onshore operations and maintenance market in line with its diversification strategy. It said the Permian market offered good growth potential.