Oil companies have been warned it is "unlikely" prices will return to $100 a barrel levels in the near future.

A report from business advisers PwC said prices could instead rise to between $60 and $70 a barrel in the next few years.

It said this could trigger a rise in capital investment and overall activity levels after the recent downturn.

Industry body Oil and Gas UK said the sector was showing "drive and determination".

The 'Sea Change: Emerging from a downturn' report states: "There is a sense that a balancing of industry fundamentals is approaching which should support a limited oil price recovery.

"And while we are unlikely to see $100 prices returning in the near to medium term at least, a more robust price ($60-$70) should be realised in the next few years.

"But this recovery will be uneven. Moreover, we are unlikely to witness a return to the boom period as prices recover."

'Reach for stars'

It concludes: "Those players that can operate efficiently and profitably in the current environment, while investing in core business areas for future growth, will be the fittest to emerge from the turmoil and most likely reach for the stars."

Oil and Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie said the industry had faced "unprecedented challenges".

She said: "There is still much work to be done and this will require the joint efforts of industry, governments, the Treasury and the Oil and Gas Authority."