What does 2020 hold for the global upstream oil and gas industry?

2020 is a year of what-ifs for producers and suppliers; uncertainty will keep spending low and growth slow

Get complimentary copies of reports from the Foresight 2020 series, including:

  • Global upstream: 5 things to look for in 2020
  • Asia Pacific upstream: 5 things to look for in 2020
  • North Sea upstream: 5 things to look for in 2020
  • And more from our experts around the globe

1 minute read

What are the biggest trends to watch in the upstream oil and gas business in 2020?

The level of uncertainty and anxiety among upstream producers and suppliers has rarely been higher. Decision-making will be more heavily influenced by sentiment surrounding the energy transition, political upheaval and trade disputes in 2020 than in previous years. This adds to the ever-present risks of unexpected supply-demand imbalance, niche cost inflation or a global economic downturn.

What are the biggest trends to watch in the upstream oil and gas business in 2020? Our team of global upstream analysts has come together to share their predictions for the industry in the next 12 months.

  1. Upstream capex will remain flat
  2. Sanctioned volumes will be huge, and gas weighted
  3. Excess supply chain capacity keeps costs lower for longer
  4. Tight oil will slow down, but once again be resilient
  5. Exploration will be under real pressure but will create value.

Download your copy of the report here.


2020 could be a pivotal year for Alaskan production, with several new well pads due to come onstream. It's also shaping up to be an exciting year on the exploration front. Thirteen E&A wells are planned, with further appraisal at Willow and Narwhal, as well as exploration at new prospects Harpoon, Stirrup and Mitquq.

In this complimentary report, our experts share their view of the year ahead.

Mark Oberstoetter, Director, Canada/Alaska Upstream Oil and Gas

Asia Pacific

2020 will bring both new and old challenges for oil and gas companies in the Asia Pacific region. The pipeline of assets for sale remains strong, while explorers will move into appraisal mode on a number of high-profile discoveries made in 2019. At the same time, the global energy transition is beginning to take hold, with implications for activity, decision-making and strategy.

Our complimentary report explores the top 5 things to look for in 2020 in the Asia Pacific region. 

Andrew Harwood, Research Director, Asia Pacific Upstream Oil & Gas


2020 will be a big year for the Australasian upstream sector. FIDs are back on the cards. M&A momentum will continue. Carbon will capture the attention of operators. There will be an uptick in onshore activity. And the Beetaloo exploration play will take centre stage.

Read this complimentary insight to find out about our experts' top five things to look out for in 2020.

Adele Long, Senior Research Manager, Australasia Upstream Oil and Gas


Canada produces 6% of the world's oil and 5% of its gas, and accounts for an even higher percentage of global reserves. The country's inability to achieve parity with global prices for those products remains its dominant issue. Many of the topics facing the global upstream sector are especially heightened in Canada given the intense scrutiny on capital discipline and environmental performance.

What are the top 5 things to look out for in 2020 in this region? Read our complimentary report to find out.

Mark Oberstoetter, Director, Canada/Alaska Upstream Oil and Gas


The Caspian upstream sector again has big plans in 2020. But will it deliver after a mixed 2019? Some themes never go away – new gas infrastructure and megaproject investment phases. But 2020 will also be notable for exploration’s return to prominence in Azerbaijan.

Our Caspian upstream experts share their top 5 trends to follow across the region in 2020 in this complimentary report. 

Lindsay Grant, Research Director, Europe, Russia and Caspian Upstream Oil & Gas

Continental Europe

The coming year will be pivotal for the upstream sector in Continental Europe. The path towards an early shut-in at Groningen will further contribute to a decline in gas production, but liquids output will increase, driven by the ramp-up of Italy’s Tempa Rossa field. Meanwhile, high-impact exploration and emerging investment areas could provide material growth opportunities.

In this complimentary report, our experts discuss the top 5 events and themes to watch in the upstream sector across Continental Europe.

Middle East and North Africa

What lies ahead for the MENA region in 2020? On the production side, Egypt’s spectacular gas production growth story looks set to end. In offshore exploration, all eyes are on the East Med. And when it comes to capex, declines in Egypt and Israel could be offset by gains in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Download this complimentary report to find out more about our top themes to watch over the coming year. 

Ian Thom, Research Director, Middle East Upstream Oil and Gas

North Sea

The North Sea will remain a global hotspot for business development in 2020. Private equity will reach a crossroads as focus shifts towards an exit. The Supermajor sell-off will continue and bargains will be had in the UK. Norwegian prices will be propped up by a group of thriving local buyers. Exploration will remain buoyant and production will rise. Fiscal policies will remain stable – but expect plenty of long-term manoeuvring towards decarbonisation.

Our North Sea upstream experts share their top 5 trends to watch in 2020 in this complimentary report.

Neivan Boroujerdi, Principal Analyst, North Sea Upstream


Restrained by the OPEC+ agreements, Russian operators will focus more on gas projects in 2020 with a number of new developments. But this year won’t just be about gas.

In this complimentary report our experts share their top five things to look for in 2020, from delivering Russian gas via new pipelines to the launch of Russia’s largest oil project for a number of years.

Michael Moynihan, Research Director, Russia Upstream Oil and Gas

Sub-Saharan Africa

2020 ushers in a new decade that will see a shift from West Africa to East Africa, as Mozambique's LNG projects begin to dominate investment and volumes. Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia will also undergo a transformation in their upstream sectors, while major resource additions are possible in South Africa and Namibia.

In this complimentary report, our experts pick out their top five things to look for in 2020, from FIDs to capital spend and M&A activity.

Gail Anderson, Research Director, Sub-Saharan Africa Upstream Oil and Gas

US Gulf of Mexico

Activity levels will remain steady in the US Gulf of Mexico. The deepwater region enters the new decade with record production, multiple greenfield project FIDs and an active deal market – and a new wave of investment is starting.

All is not positive, however. Rig costs will start to creep up and a US election year adds new above-ground risk.

In this complimentary report our experts explore five key themes for the region in 2020. 

US Lower 48

It’s guaranteed to be another pivotal year for the tight oil sector. Bankruptcies, M&A, debt exchanges, upspacing disclosures and guidance revisions all made 2019 tumultuous.

In this complimentary report, our experts highlight five detailed Lower 48 topics that will have a huge impact in 2020 in their own right, from headwinds for Permian players to reshuffling the Rockies cost curve.

Robert Clarke, Research Director, Lower 48 Upstream

Global unconventional plays

The US Lower 48 has been the clear focal point of unconventional drilling over the last ten years. But as a new decade begins, could international activity increase?

In this complimentary report, our analysts highlight their top 5 plays to watch in 2020. Plus, our latest views on recent unconventional developments globally.

Julie Francis, Principal Research Analyst, Lower 48 Upstream Oil and Gas