Britain's oil industry could lose a further 45,000 jobs this year, a senior figure in the sector has reportedly warned.
Sir Ian Wood said that 150 jobs are being lost on a daily basis and cautioned that the rate of losses this year was comparable to 2015, The Times reported.
Sir Ian, the former chief executive of the Wood Group who has advised the UK Government on maximising oil recovery, predicted that the number of UK jobs in the sector would fall to about 320,000 during 2016.
Quoted in the newspaper, he said: "We lost 65,000 jobs in the last year and I don't think the losses have slowed down."
The oil industry veteran argued that there was an urgent need to find ways of protecting critical skills and infrastructure.
But he said: "This is not the end of the [North Sea] oil and gas industry."
The Times reported that Sir Ian said the government needs to work with banks and struggling companies to make sure the industry can survive sufficiently intact for future development.
He reportedly welcomed tax cuts in the recent Budget, but warned: "This will take time and, in the meantime, at 40 US dollar oil, further losses of jobs and resources are inevitable".
Despite a reduction in operating costs and a rise in oil and gas production, a collapse in investment in new projects has sparked widespread fears for the long-term future of the industry.
Oil and Gas UK last month warned the industry stands ''at the edge of a chasm''.
The organisation's 2016 activity survey found the rate of exploration for new reserves on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) is at an all-time low ''with no sign of improving''.