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Westwood’s tenth edition of the ‘World Land Drilling Rig Market Forecast’ report assesses impact following estimated worst year on record for drilling

London, UK, 7 September 2021: New analysis from Westwood Global Energy Group (Westwood), the specialist energy market research and consultancy firm, reveals that a slow, gradual recovery for global land rig demand is expected following the COVID-19 induced downturn in 2020. Demand is estimated to return to pre pandemic (2019) levels by 2025.

As drilling activity plummeted across the globe over the course of 2020, operational rigs are estimated to have fallen c.25%, contracting from c.4,570 to c.3,530. Utilisation levels followed suit falling to an estimated c.40%, similar to the downturn levels of 2016.

While a recovery is anticipated year-on-year over the forecast period, it is expected to be gradual and characterised by operator caution as they navigate several important considerations – pace of global demand recovery, the energy transition, and geopolitics.

There will also be significant regional variances to contend with. Countries with E&P landscapes dominated by NOCs are expected to lead recovery.

Ben Wilby, Senior Analyst, at Westwood said: “The global market is expected to remain significantly oversupplied throughout the forecast period. China is anticipated to lead rig demand, while strong growth is expected in the GCC. However, both Latin and North America experienced significant demand contractions in 2020, and are not expected to recover to 2019 levels (particularly in North America) over the forecast period.”

Ben continues: “The focus for US onshore operators is profitability and creating shareholder value over production growth.”

However, the analysis also highlights areas of potential upside to Westwood’s Base Case forecast. Momentum in the development of unconventional reserves in China, Argentina and Columbia could result in stronger than forecasted rig demand. Similarly, additional demand could come from the sanctioning of projects that have seen long delays in the past, including large-scale developments in Australia. Sustained levels of higher commodity pricing and demand recovery could also encourage US onshore operators to increase the rig count and drilling of new wells.

Average number of Rigs Operational and Global Rig Utilisation, 2019 – 2025
Average number of Rigs Operational and Global Rig Utilisation, 2019 – 2025



About Westwood Global Energy Group

Every day, organisations throughout the onshore and offshore upstream energy value chain ask strategic, technical and commercial questions and turn to Westwood Global Energy Group for the answers. As trusted advisors to companies in key sectors, Westwood Global Energy Group chooses to focus on areas of the industry traditionally underserved by other players.

The Energy Transition means that businesses are facing both new opportunities and risks in how they operate. We are committed to helping the energy industry navigate the transition successfully, by leveraging our extensive track record in providing actionable insight and advice that businesses, industry bodies and investors have relied upon time and time again. From the depth of our data to the insight from our industry experts, our commercial advisory to our quantitative techniques and databases – we insist on excellence in everything we do.

Westwood Global Energy Group is headquartered in Aberdeen and has offices in London, Houston and Singapore.


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