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Economic and geopolitical events extended largely beyond OPEC’s control last year, particularly during the last six months. As a consequence, the cartel’s carefully titrated production quotas began to unravel, and oil and gas prices slipped substantially. Fortunately, the long-term fundamentals of supply and demand remained relatively sound enough to institute a price floor at about $18/bbl.
Not surprisingly, drilling levels began to slow down, most notably in North and South America, with some minor reductions also experienced in Africa and the Middle East. Nevertheless, drilling outside the U.S. managed to rise 4.5%, to 42,580 wells. This year, the outlook calls for an 8.1% decline to 39,120 wells. It should be noted that if Canada were left out of the total, then the rest of the world would be up 1%. Indeed, we expect increases of varying size in five out of eight regions: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Far East and South Pacific.
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