Last year, in particular the second half of it, was an annus horribilis for firms reliant on offshore drilling and engineering work in the Gulf. Key NOC-driven projects, above all those of Saudi Aramco, were kicked sideways due to a combination of a desire to conserve cash and Covid-related logistical challenges.

From near-records of over 50 active drilling rigs at the start of 2020, the region’s rig count collapsed to average just 25 for Q4 last year, the lowest figure since 1Q 2011 (see chart). (CONTINUED - 654 WORDS)