Increased running costs, reduced efficiency and cheap oil have contributed to a dramatic drop in optimism in the UK's oil and gas industry, a survey reveals.
Oil & Gas UK's Business Sentiment Index, published on 2 February, showed a 16-point fall to -23 points on a -50/+50 scale for the last quarter of 2014.
The figures were derived from answers given by companies to nine questions covering a range of issues including confidence, revenue and operating expenses.
The decline continues the downward trend seen over the last seven quarters and the overall index has slumped further into negative territory for the second quarter in a row.
"While the industry faces clear challenges, it is now at a turning point," said Oil & Gas UK's operations director Oonagh Werngren. "The positive news is that there is a clear consensus that it must accelerate its efforts to address the costs and efficiency of its operations across the UK. Alongside this, urgent government action on fiscal and regulatory reform is essential to help secure the next phase of development in the North Sea."