The most vexing challenge for service companies in the geosciences sector is predicting the ebb and flow of oil company spending on exploration that provides the lifeblood of the business.

How much, when and where are the questions that determine their strategies.

Any answer, however well researched, is at best a guess, even when coming from the likes of the International Energy Agency, Opec, or leading analysts.

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There will always be surprises — the astonishing rise of US shale, the 2014 price shock and the Covid-19 pandemic, to name just three in recent memory.