Rig operator Maersk Drilling has reported that the current slowdown in offshore oil and gas drilling will last 12 to 18 months, and the market for rigs will rebound in 2015.

Other drilling companies such as Transocean have warned the market may continue to slow for the next 24 months, as major oil companies continue to delay projects and cut capital expenditure to save cash, while drilling organisations continue to add new vessels, creating overcapacity. Analysts have predicted that oil and gas capital spending will rise by around five percent this year, a substantial fall from recent years of double-digit growth, as the biggest offshore drillers such as Shell and Chevron begin to reduce their budgets.

Yet according to Claus Hemmingsen, the chief executive of Maersk Drilling, oil companies are only delaying projects; reporting to Reuters that the distinction between postponements and full-cancellations must not be overlooked. In an interview with Reuters, Hemmingsen said: “I would rather call it a short-term softness than anything dramatic.”

Eric Doyle, Regional Director – Europe at Aquaterra Energy, said: “While the drilling sector as a whole has seen contracts reduced and major projects delayed, Aquaterra Energy is confident that global offshore drilling will remain a strong and viable industry for many years to come. A number of industry experts, including Sir Ian Wood, are calling for greater collaboration between government, industry and education to help invest in the industry’s long-term future, which Aquaterra Energy fully supports in its work with education providers and its graduate and apprenticeship schemes.”