One of the main factors was higher EPCI expenditure of $41.7 billion, close to the level for 2019.
Global rig contract fixtures, including options exercised, totalled 142 during 4Q 2021, representing 54,829 rig days. This was a 155% increase compared to the previous quarter.
Alex Middleton, senior market analyst at Westwood, said: “Several major drilling regions, including North America, South America, and the Middle East have experienced minimal fall out.
“In fact, South America has fared particularly well, ending last year in better shape than before the pandemic. Brazil remained particularly buoyant, with high EPC spend coupled with no instances of contract cancellations resulting in continued drilling throughout the period.”
But activity in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the North Sea dipped due to pausing of major drilling projects, due partly to political and legal issues. The Cambo project west of Shetland in UK waters was one of the ‘casualties’, being put on hold in 4Q 2021 after Shell announced it was pausing investment in the project.
Operator Siccar Point Energy has pointed out that Cambo could deliver 170 MMboe over 25 years; however, the exploration licenses date back to 2001 and the current licence is due to expire this March. The UK government has to provide approval for drilling to go ahead.
Middleton added: “Drilling projects have been halted amidst uncertainty; however, there are several major projects on the horizon that, if picked up, could help drive a recovery.”