Nine in ten UK subsea providers saw boosted revenues and profits in the past year, and most are expecting more significant growth in 2013, although skills shortages are a widespread concern, according to a survey.

One in five subsea companies posted growth of more than 50% in 2012, according to the poll by industry group Subsea UK, which represents 250 companies in the sector.

Sustained high oil prices, an increase in global demand and new technology making more developments viable were all credited for the continuing rise in subsea fortunes.

Subsea UK chief executive Neil Gordon said that the sector was “one of, if not the, fastest growing in the country,” generating annual revenues of $9.4 billion.

He said some companies polled were expecting 75% growth this year and “many of our small, entrepreneurial companies focused on niche products and services are set to double or treble in size”.

Most respondents were looking to international markets spanning Norway, Brazil, United States, southeast Asia, Australia, west Africa and the Middle East for growth with half of UK subsea output already being exported.

At the same time, some 88% of companies surveyed said that recruiting and retaining skilled staff was the biggest constraint on their operations.

Access to finance and working capital was another key challenge cited by respondents to the survey, as well as finding suitable premises, controlling costs and managing growth.

One in eight of those polled believed the UK’s commanding position in the sector was under threat from competitors in Norway and the United States.

Gordon said members were “increasingly concerned about the UK’s competitive edge”, arguing UK providers “risk losing out” given how providers in other countries receive state funding to develop new technology.