The Foreseeable Future of Oil & Gas Exploration

A glimmer of optimism is appearing for oil and gas exploration as we encourage industry collaborations to focus on maintaining efficiency, reliability and capital discipline.
This article appeared in Vol. 15, No. 2 - 2018


Things are Looking Up for Oil & Gas

As the oil price begins to stabilise, we look ahead at the light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel indeed. Focus now remains on improving the efficiency and reliability of hydrocarbon exploration and production. Photo credit: Jane Whaley. After a lot of doom and gloom, a glimmer of optimism is appearing in the exploration industry. Having been below $60 a barrel from mid 2015, since late 2017 the price of Brent crude has stayed above that level, even briefly hitting $70 earlier this year. A much-pared down industry is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Job cuts have almost ceased, with increases in employment being evident in some areas, particularly the US. Total global proved oil reserves have been rising after stagnating for several years, and there has been a renewed interest in deepwater drilling.

Oil & Gas Revival

This revived industry will be very different, however. For one thing, there seems to be less ‘them and us’ between service and exploration companies, with cooperation becoming the new norm. Take a look at the METIS project, our cover story: a fine example of the new spirit of collaboration, where supermajor Total and as many as 25 service companies are together creating a revolution in onshore seismic acquisition. Importantly, this project, like many in this new and exciting world, takes a holistic view of the issues involved, incorporating not just innovative technical solutions, but ensuring that health, safety, the environment and sustainability are all part of the program.

Maximum Hydrocarbon Production

Working to get maximum production from every field has also become a priority in this new environment. Analyst Rystad Energy estimates that liquid resources from mature assets grew by 151 billion barrels over the last four years, driven by factors such as increased infill drilling, improved understanding of reservoirs, EOR projects and technology improvements. Looking ahead, every drop left behind will matter.

As Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive, said in the recently released BP Energy Outlook: “Don’t be fooled by the recent firming in oil prices: the focus on efficiency, reliability and capital discipline is here to stay.”


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