The first signs are appearing that the 60% fall in oil prices since mid-2014 is finally putting a significant dent in Middle East upstream activity.

The region has been a pillar of resilience over the last year with upstream activity hitting new records while drilling activity in the US and elsewhere collapsed. But latest ‘rig count’ figures for April from US oilfield services firm Baker Hughes show Saudi Arabia posting a nine-month low figure of 123, while Iraq’s 43 was...