Westwood: Oil and gas exploration remained resilient in 2021 despite accelerating energy transition

May 26, 2022

Latest analysis from Westwood Global Energy Group, a specialist energy market research and consultancy firm, reveals that, in spite of challenges due to COVID-19 and the accelerating energy transition, high impact oil and gas exploration drilling in 2021 maintained its momentum.

While high impact drilling levels in 2021 were similar to 2020, performance sank significantly, with discovered resource dropping 65% in 2021 to 6.7bnboe. The commercial success rate also fell 11% year-on-year, from 40% to 29%. This is due to a reduced number of giant discoveries >500mmboe and some unsuccessful play extension tests in recently opened emerging basins.

The research also confirms that companies with a significant proportion of infrastructure-led exploration in their portfolios delivered a higher commercial success rate and a more predictable finding cost, despite lower discovery sizes. Access to funding also meant that Supermajors and NOCs, together accounted for 68% of high impact well equity in 2021 compared to 47% in 2018.

Graeme Bagley, Head of Global Exploration and Appraisal at Westwood said, “The results of our latest State of Exploration report present a promising outlook for exploration, having bounced back from COVID-19 and despite significant headwinds against exploration for fossil fuels. As we stride towards a cleaner energy mix, however, the crucial requirement is for low emissions intensity developments for all future exploration opportunities.”

“Looking ahead, we’ll be seeing scrutiny of the success case impact on company net zero targets, with ESG considerations and the time to break-even becoming increasingly important when it comes to prospect selection.”

The State of Exploration 2022 report is now available for subscribers to Westwood’s Wildcat solution.

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