Mideast countries have sustained drilling through the global downturn. Opec says it has “helped stem the industry’s hemorrhaging.” With even US shale activity dipping since August, a global upstream recovery will likely have to wait till 2018.

Middle East countries have managed to keep drilling at near-record levels in 2017, in stark contrast to the global trend of upstream underinvestment.

The rig count for GCC countries was a collective 288 in September, just 17 off...