Norwegian offshore services group Aker Maritime forecast a considerable rise in profits in 2000 after weak oil markets depressed earnings in 1999. "The low level of activity in the world's offshore markets has, as expected, affected Aker Martime in 1999 but the company's most important markets are picking up at the start of 2000," officials said. "Even though Aker Maritime's level of activity is likely to continue to decline in the first half of 2000 due to the low order intake in 1999, earnings are expected to improve significantly in 2000." The company reported that profits after financial items, the equivalent of pre-tax earnings, fell to $7.8 million from $85.5 million. The company had a net loss of $2.1 million against a 1998 profit of $50.5 million.
Aker Maritime, which is majority owned by Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke, said earnings were also weakened by "unsatisfactory profits on some projects, restructuring costs in its Norwegian operations and its growth within geology and seismic." The company forecast better margins for 2000. "Aker Maritime expects that the increase in oil prices throughout
1999 will lead oil companies to increase their activities in exploration and deep water. This will be positive for the company, even if its activity level as a whole will be significantly lower than in 1999," officials said.