OIL and gas companies are looking to rebalance their business portfolios and reorganise for a new era, according to research of senior industry figures on the outlook for 2017.

The report from classification and services group DNV-GL paints a picture of deep, strategic changes for sustainable growth in a sector slowly emerging from a long, drawn-out recovery.

Almost half (49 per cent) of those surveyed expected their organisations to diversify into or increase investment in opportunities beyond oil and gas this year, though they were still planning investments in the sector.

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Eirik Waerness, a chief economist at Norwegian multinational Statoil, said: “Whether it is to diversify across the value chain or into other energy sources, companies are trying to make future cash flow less dependent on variations in the oil and gas price.”

Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO, DNVGL Oil and Gas, added: “The number of companies we now see pursuing opportunities beyond oil and gas signals a step change in the reshaping of the sector and demonstrates its ability to adapt and build a more robust, diverse and sustainable energy future.”

The clearest targets for diversification are energy sources with low carbon footprints, and a quarter of those surveyed (26 per cent) expected their firms to invest or increase investments in renewables this year.

More than half (59 per cent) regarded this as a shift in long-term business strategy.