WOOD has highlighted the progress it has made amid challenging trading conditions after raising around $70 million (£53m) to cut debt.

The Aberdeen-based engineering giant said it had completed the $67 million disposal of its stake in a Canadian turbine repair business to TC Energy, its partner in the venture.

The sale will allow the engineering giant to strengthen its balance sheet as it grapples with the downturn in the key oil services market.

The plunge in the crude price triggered by the coronavirus crisis has prompted firms to cut spending on the kind of oil and gas facilities that Wood works on.

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However, shares in Wood rose seven per cent yesterday when crude prices were lifted by growing hopes that an effective coronavirus vaccine could be made available soon.

In its interim results announcement in August Wood said it had taken early and decisive actions in response to the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus on the global economy and oil price volatility. This included taking action to cut costs, protect margins and cashflow and ensure balance sheet strength.

Chief financial officer David Kemp said yesterday that the sale of Wood’s stake in the Canadian gas turbine business was in line with its strategy of building a premium, differentiated, higher margin business focused on energy and built environment markets.

He noted the sale would also make a positive contribution towards achieving Wood’s aim to reduce net debt levels relative to earnings.

Brent crude sold for $44.12 per barrel yesterday afternoon, up $1.34/bbl on the day.

The price fell from around $70/bbl in January to a 20-year low of less than $16/bbl in April after coronavirus lockdowns hammered demand.

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It rallied after some lockdown measures were eased and major exporters agreed to curb output but came under renewed pressure amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The market was boosted last week when Pfizer and BioNTech announced strong test results for their coronavirus vaccine. Moderna followed suit yesterday.

Wood shares closed up 24.5p at 296.7p.

Wood expanded into markets such as environmental engineering in response to the downturn in the oil and gas market.

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The £2.2 billion acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler in 2017 helped accelerate the diversification process.