Drilling activity in Iraq in July fell to its lowest since May 2012, dropping to just 39 rigs according to Houston-based oil field services firm Baker Hughes. Although Gazprom Neft is boosting production at its Badra field to 65,000 b/d by year end, other firms are maintaining strict limits on investment.

GCC heavyweights Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman have kept their drilling activity at near-record levels (see graph) this year despite the adverse affects of sustained low oil prices. Saudi Arabia recorded a 17th straight month of 120-plus rigs in July, posting 125 in the latest month, just four short of its December 2015 record of 129. Kuwait posted a 2016 high of 47, 37 of which are oil rigs. Production in July was the highest since output in the Partitioned Neutral Zone (PNZ) halted in May 2015 and further gains look likely. (CONTINUED - 447 WORDS)