oil scotland
Oil in the North Sea. Berardo62

Total has revealed that it is slashing its spending in the North Sea after plunging oil prices hit profit across the industry

Speaking to the Financial Times at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the French energy giant's CEO Patrick Pouyanne said it will cut its $26bn (£17bn, €22bn) worth of capital spending by 10%, and impose a hiring freeze for this year.

Pouyanne said oil prices, which have tanked around 60% since last summer, are likely to remain low until at least the second half of this year and this would also hit spending in the US.

"We have fields on the US East Coast and my instructions have been pretty clear. We will limit investments," he said.

"I can come back in one year when prices come back."

The Brent forwards contract is down at $47.99/bbl, while US dropped nearly 5% in the session to $46.39/bbl.

This is still around 60% lower than summer 2014's peak of $115/bbl. In 2013 and 2012 oil prices averaged $100/bbl.

"There is a natural decline of 5% a year from existing fields around the world," added Pouyanne.

"That means (that) by 2030 more than half of the existing global oil production will disappear. There is an enormous amount of money that needs to be invested to get another 50 million barrels per day of new production."

"The cycle will come back and higher prices will come back."

BP, Schlumberger, and other energy groups have announced they are paring back on jobs and spending, following the plunge in oil prices and diminishing reserves.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) revealed that the average oil output in 2013 from the North Sea registered its lowest level since 1977.

This represented a roughly 10% decline from the previous year of 90 thousand barrels per day.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), citing figures from the Scottish government, said around two thirds of all income from profits and employment due to the North Sea oil and gas industry were retained in Scotland to a tune of over £10bn in 2010.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the rate of profit at oil and gas exploration and extraction companies tanked to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2014 - its lowest level since the second quarter of 2009.