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UK Trade and Industrial Output slumped in December as Shutdown of North Sea Oil Pipe Hits the Economy

Published in Oil Industry News on Monday, 12 February 2018

Graphic for News Item: UK Trade and Industrial Output slumped in December as Shutdown of North Sea Oil Pipe Hits the Economy

UK trade and industrial output slumped in December, fuelled by the shut down of a major oil pipeline in the North Sea, new data revealed today.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday showed the UK trade deficit widening by £3.8 billion to £10.8 billion in the three months to December 2017.

A drop in the UK's oil exports - as well as large increases in the price of fuel imports - had the largest impact on the trade in goods deficit, which widened by £3.3 billion, while the surplus in services narrowed over the period by £500 million.

Goods trading was impacted by a 3.8 per cent - or £2.1 billion - increase in imports from non-EU countries, as well as a drop in exports to the EU which have been worsening since hitting a recent peak in summer 2017.

The UK's oil industry was knocked by the temporary shuttering of the Forties pipeline over the bulk of December.

It came after a routine inspection found a hairline crack in the pipe just south of Aberdeen, prompting emergency repairs that stopped the flow of oil and gas from platforms feeding into the system.

The closure also weighed on production output, contributing to a 4.7 per cent drop in mining and quarrying.

This partially offset a 1.3 per cent rise in manufacturing in the three months to December, resulting in a mere 0.5 per cent increase in the ONS Index of Production.

ONS senior statistician Ole Black said: 'Manufacturing continued to grow strongly in the last three months of the year, with metal goods and pharmaceuticals driving growth.

'However, overall production growth slowed due to the shutdown of the cracked Forties pipeline.'

On a month-on-month basis, total production output fell 1.3 per cent as the Forties shutdown sent mining and quarrying down 19.1 per cent.

For the whole of 2017 output grew 2.1 per cent year-on-year, bolstered by manufacturing's 2.8 per cent growth.

Additional data released by the ONS pointed to a 0.7 per cent drop in output from Britain's' construction industry over the three months to December.

It is the third straight quarterly decline, which the ONS said marked the longest fall in quarterly construction output since 2012.

However, on a month-on-month basis, output grew 1.6 per cent in the final month of 2017.

Mr Black said: 'Construction was broadly flat across 2017, thanks to a strong December.

'However, house building and infrastructure were the only bright spots, with all other areas of the industry falling back throughout the year.' 

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk

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