The boom in US shale drilling in recent months has seen the country move to center stage in 2017 upstream spending plans (MEES, 3 February). But activity in the Middle East, the one region not to have seen a downturn over the past two years, remains robust.

Since the mid-2014 oil price collapse, upstream spending in the Middle East has remained relatively steady, in stark contrast to the rest of the world. Indeed, with cost reductions and improved efficiency oil firms have been able to...