Intelligence from a recent investigation by GBI research has shown that an increase in offshore discoveries is prompting a surge in exploration activity across the Middle East and Africa and driving up the amount spent on drilling.The company’s latest oil and gas report forecasts offshore drilling expenditure across the region to climb steadily from 13.56 billion USD in 2012 to 17.03 billion USD in 2016. Cumulatively, the total expected spend for this five year period is US$77.3 billion, which represents an increase of approximately 22% over 2007-2011 total of 63.5 billion USD.Drilling outlay is expected to grow across all major nations in the region, with those in West Africa leading in terms of exploration activity. Escalating activity in countries relatively new to the offshore drilling industry, such as Sierra Leone and Liberia, may prove to be future competition for the more established nations of West Africa.Ghana is expected to emerge as one of the most prominent countries in West Africa for the exploration of oil and gas, with 16 offshore discoveries made between 2008 and 2012 – second only to Angola, where 22 discoveries were made during the same period. In terms of drilling expenditure, Angola is expected to remain the biggest spender in the region by some margin, over the next few years at least. GBI Research expects drilling expenditure in the Southern African country to continue climbing in the near future, hitting 6.67 billion USD in 2016. Nigeria and Egypt are forecast to place second and third, with totals of 2.26 billion USD and 1.52 billion USD, respectively.