Upstream investments pick up again. After two years of decline caused by low prices, this year the International Energy Agency forecasts that the combined value of sector projects should rise by 6%, reaching a total of 460 billion euros (+3% excluding inflation). After a fall of almost 50% since 2014, this inversion may finally represent “the light at the end of the tunnel”, the Agency has emphasized. The first quarter results for 2017 display a “significant improvement” in investments by the main Oil&Gas companies, who have made huge efforts to reduce costs over the last two years. This surge – continues the IEA report – is driven by the Middle East and the USA, where production costs are among the lowest in the world. Nevertheless, “with oil&gas prices below 45 dollars a barrel in mid-June, there is a real possibility that sector companies will not completely implement their investment programs”, warns the IEA. For the moment, the companies are concentrating on short term development projects, in order to ensure a quicker return for their investments. For this year too, the IEA forecasts a reduction of exploration costs of 7%. Last year, discoveries of conventional oil&gas fell to 2.4 billion barrels, “an even more dramatic fall than 2015, the year with the lowest discovery levels since 1952”, pointed out the IEA.