This cost concern comes at a time when the skills shortage is pushing salaries into unheard of realms. Daily rates of $US1000 are not unheard of.
Senior oil and gas professionals have forecast tighter monitoring of capital expenditure this year, according to research published by DNV GL in its report, Challenging Climates: The outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2014.
While 88% of respondents to the research were confident about the sector, concern over rising operational costs, a shortage of skilled professionals and competition from international rivals caused professionals to focus on the projects providing the greatest return on investment.
According to the report, the proportion of companies planning to increase investment in new projects fell 18% over the past three years, from a high of 63% in 2012 to just 45% in 2014.
For the first time since 2011 and the aftermath of Macondo, overall confidence in the oil and gas sector has fallen - albeit only by one percentage point. This signals a shift in sentiment.
Respondents are expected to keep a close watch on costs with 62% intending to pressure suppliers to curb cost increases next year - especially across Asia.
Uncertainty over oil and gas prices will be more prevalent in 2014 with 23% of industry professionals thinking oil and gas prices will weaken this year while 36% remain unsure.
DNV GL - Oil & Gas CEO Elisabeth Torstad said oil and gas industry projects were becoming increasingly complex as the industry continued to operate in more challenging environments.
"The cost of exploration and production is rising, the industry's pool of skilled professionals is decreasing and companies are feeling greater pressure on their overheads," she said.
"This is all leading to great focus and a degree of ‘belt tightening' across the industry with a view to keeping a tighter rein on capital expenditure.
"Although confidence is still high, for the first time since 2011 and the aftermath of Macondo, overall confidence in the oil and gas sector has fallen marginally, signalling a slight shift in sentiment.
"We're also starting to see signs of greater consolidation across the oil and gas industry supply chain.
"Our research gives clear signs that pressure will put on suppliers to become more innovative, to reduce costs and show value in 2014 by providing access to scarce, in-demand skills and by demonstrating real quality in the products and services they deliver."
In response to rising costs, operators will seek to rely on larger supply chain partners that are more capable of providing a consistent global service, according to the report.
About 22% of survey respondents say their company will increase its work with larger partners, compared with just 6% in 2012.
More than 37% of operators say their companies intend to acquire partners with the specialist knowledge and skills they need as they move into tougher exploration and production sites, with almost half saying they will need to increase alliances with others to share knowledge in order to cope with more challenging environments.
In the Asia Pacific region, 89% of senior oil and gas professionals are confident about the industry outlook for 2014 but are expected to be cautious over costs and price uncertainties.
Despite this confidence, just 22% of operators in the Asia Pacific believed they were on track to hit their targets.
As a result, operators will be keeping a tighter rein on capital spending.
About 40% believe overall costs will be the biggest barrier to growth for their business.
Australia (6%), Malaysia (6%) and China (5%) all feature within the top five investment destinations outlined by respondents after the US (22%) and Brazil (9%).
DNV GL divisional director in Asia Pacific Richard Bailey said the region was home to some of the world's most capital intensive projects.
He said many of those projects faced major cost inflation as operators came under pressure to bring the on stream on time.
"Our research shows these spiralling costs, coupled with a growing shortage of skilled oil and gas professionals, are causing industry leaders to re-evaluate their capital spending plans and take a narrower strategic focus in the year ahead to keep a tighter rein on capital expenditure," Bailey said.
"This comes during a period when we are starting to see signs of greater consolidation across the oil and gas supply chain.
"The pressure will be on suppliers to innovate to reduce costs and show value through providing access to scarce, in-demand skills and by demonstrating real quality in the products and services they deliver."
Skills shortages have been cited as the second-biggest barrier to growth by 40% of respondents in the Asia Pacific and a quarter expected to struggle to find sufficient qualified external partners to achieve their objectives during 2014.
That skills shortage is proving a major problem across the entire sector.
This has led to some paying a median daily rate of $US1000 for contractors in technical areas with a particular expertise shortage.
Globally, 47% of respondents in the DNV GL survey considered skills shortages to be the top barrier to growth.
The positions that will be hardest to fill within the oil and gas industry are project managers (38%), who are most in demand in the Asia Pacific region; offshore-related engineers; and safety and risk engineers.
Skills shortages are most acute in North America given the rapid growth of shale oil there and the changing nature of projects.
Torstad said the industry had to take a longer view of building professional skills, rather than stopping to nurture talent when the oil price weakened.
"While we cannot fully duplicate and replicate the experience of retiring professionals in the sector, we can work smarter through structure approaches to managing industry knowledge and ensuring the competence built is effectively transferred to younger generations," she said.
"A more diverse approach to recruitment would also help to address the issue.
"The skills it takes to manage the construction of a space shuttle or a hospital are not necessarily dissimilar to what's needed to manage the construction of an oil platform.
"And while decisions for global projects are today made in a few hubs around the world, I'm confident that we will employ a more geographically diverse working model in a few years.
"We will have a talent squeeze if we seek to duplicate the people in the industry today but not if we are able to use the wider talent pool available to us."