The rising tide of high oil prices is spurring upstream activity in the Middle East. The region’s rig count averaged 405 in 1Q 2018, just shy of the record 406 posted in 3Q 2017. Brent averaged $67.22/B in the first quarter, against $61.46/B in the final quarter of 2017.

Interestingly, the driver has not been the Middle East’s core GCC grouping, which has seen activity fall, but Iraq, where operating rigs rose to a three-year high of 58 (see chart).

Data from oilfield services...