Middle East Upstream Spending Faces Trying 2016

Though Gulf countries had until recently appeared largely immune to cuts in upstream activity, the latest rig count numbers from services firm Baker Hughes suggest that cuts to upstream budgets are finally filtering through into reduced drilling.

Up to the end of 2015 cuts to Gulf upstream budgets had been absorbed by services firms’ reduced costs, with activity remaining at near-record levels.

But for January core GCC Opec members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE (Abu Dhabi) all saw cuts to their numbers of active drilling rigs, as did non-Opec Oman. Collectively the GCC countries saw their rig count fall by 10 in January, the largest month-on-month fall since August 2013 (see graph and p7 table).


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