Upstream oil & gas trends

Great expectations for great exploration

The future of exploration survey

The results are in. Comparing 2018 results to last years we look at how the industry is making headway and whether the foundations of success set in 2017 are strong enough to sustain future activity. We've also looked at what the industry was saying a decade ago. Are things as different as we might expect? Read on to discover more.



1 minute read

A decade of data

It's been ten years since we started our Annual Exploration Survey, and the landscape in 2018 looks markedly different. Whereas ten years ago, access to quality opportunities, rigs and manpower were the main challenges faced by the industry, in 2018 budget sits firmly at the top of the list and rig availability worries languish at the bottom.

The general story for this year is one of positivity. Exploration had a great year in 2017, with at least 12 bnboe found, much of it oil. Our survey points to this success continuing, as players plan to increase exploration drilling and acreage capture in 2018.

And while budget constraints remain the key challenge for all except NOCs, the last few years have taught the industry to do less with more, and so the trend continues. So while there's been an end to the sweeping cuts of previous years, budgets are still being kept in check as explorers start to thrive in what seems to have become a 'lower forever' economy.

Interestingly, when we compare the 2018 breakdown of exploration spend by activity, this year is far more similar to 2008 than 2017. The industry is finally beginning to rein in its 'General and administration' spend, and although not quite at 2008 levels, it's edging that way.

And we see this positivity reflected in the expected proportion of budgets targeting exploration drilling. Compared to 2017, more than twice as many respondents expect to increase exploration drilling budgets than decrease them.

Where are the most exciting developments?

Our results showed that almost half of the most exciting discoveries of 2017 were located in the Americas (the full list is available in the survey results). In 2008 people were watching Brazil, West Africa, Iraq and the Arctic.

What makes a great explorer?

The companies most admired in 2018 (in alphabetical order) are Anadarko, EOG Resources, ENI, ExxonMobil, Kosmos Energy, and Tullow. We asked which characteristics make a great explorer and while there were many views, the most frequently mentioned were: a successful track record, risk appetite, commitment to exploration and portfolio strategy. Watch this short video of David Parkinson, VP Upstream Consulting, as he talks about the key traits found in the best explorers.


What are the characteristics of the industry's best explorers?

David Parkinson, VP Upstream Consulting, talks about the key traits found in the best explorers.

The future of exploration tech

Whilst there were few surprises when we asked about the most exciting exploration and development technologies, many of the themes mentioned today 'the cloud', 'big data', AI and data analytics were no where to be seen in the responses ten years ago.

Get the full report

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