The top three global oilfield services firms saw revenue collapse in 2020. But they are pinning their hopes on a rebound in activity in the Middle East’s three largest markets: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iraq (MEES, 30 April and MEES, 30 April). A Mideast-focused competitor looking to rebuild its finances without access to these key markets would face a Sisyphean task.

Enter UK-based oilfield services and energy engineering firm Petrofac. Back in 2018, Petrofac sourced 72% of its $5.8bn revenue from the Middle East, including $794mn from Saudi, $402mn from the UAE and $211mn from Iraq. But an ongoing bribery investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) saw Petrofac frozen out of new Saudi and Iraq awards from 1H 2019 (MEES, 30 August 2019). In a further body blow, the UAE in March also announced that it was barring Petrofac from competing for new awards (MEES, 19 March). The UAE accounted for a relatively-modest 7% of Petrofac 2020 revenue, but Adnoc’s massive counter-cyclical spending plans (MEES, 22 November 2020) meant that Petrofac had been banking on this share to soar: the UAE was by far the largest element of the firm’s 2021 ‘project pipeline’. (CONTINUED - 1008 WORDS)