Harsh environments—Arctic and deepwater—will fuel growth in rig demand through 2015.

At the International Association of Drilling Contractors World Drilling Conference in Copenhagen in mid-June, Andrew Reid, chief executive officer of business and research analysis firm Douglas-Westwood, stated that three regions of the globe– Arctic, Brazil, and West Africa –will see the most drilling activity in the foreseeable future.

According to Douglas-Westwood, the Arctic will become the next frontier in offshore discovery. According to the USGS Arctic and Oil and Gas Report, the sum of the mean estimates of remaining discoverable resources for Arctic Circle provinces are 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.  

Deepwater activity will also surge. By 2015, spending is forecast to total $126 billion in two leading deepwater provinces, offshore Brazil and West Africa, said Reid. From its inception in 1990, deepwater oil production is expected to reach 13% of the world total by 2020. Likewise, offshore fields accounted for 31% of worldwide oil production in 2000, and now supply 33%.

Reid also forecast that drilling in emerging onshore markets will grow. Iraq drilling should increase by 24% through 2015, and active rig demand should increase in Latin America and major Asian markets, including China and India.

Contact the author, Larry Prado, at lprado@hartenergy.com.