News Release

Total named industry’s most-admired explorer in WoodMac survey

US independent Apache scoops discovery of the year with Maka Central find

1 minute read

French major Total has been named the upstream industry’s most-admired explorer, an accolade awarded in conjunction with Wood Mackenzie’s industry-leading annual Exploration Survey.  

 The award ceremony was held in conjunction with the global natural resources research and consultancy business’ annual Exploration Summit on 16 June, 2020. This year’s event was held online. 

 Dr Andrew Latham, Vice President, Global Exploration Research, at Wood Mackenzie, said: “For the past 12 years, Wood Mackenzie has named the industry’s Most-Admired Explorer after collating the results of our industry-leading annual exploration survey. The survey canvasses views across the sector, marrying Wood Mackenzie’s unparalleled in-depth understanding of the sector with industry opinion.  

 “We ask respondents to tell us which explorer – aside from their own company – they most admire. We don’t restrict the question to a particular time period or any particular sectors. But most voters clearly have recent success in mind when making their choice.” 

 He added: “We’ve looked closely at previous winners. If you want to win this award, you need to make big discoveries, ideally as operator and in ideally in new frontiers. For the first five years of this award, the same company won every year – Tullow Oil. Then we saw Anadarko win in each of the next two years. For the three years following that, Eni scooped the prize. Last year, it was ExxonMobil’s award.

 “This year, our overall winner is Total. Total has enjoyed a string of big wins recently, including offshore Suriname. It also completed the play-opening Brulpadda find in South Africa. Total is in Calypso in Cyprus, Ballymore in the Gulf of Mexico Jurassic, Glendronach and Glengorm in the UK, and many other finds"

“And Total has continued to add new high-profile acreage to its portfolio. In fact, at last year’s awards, it won our New Venturer of the Year for 2019. Our congratulations to Total, to the company’s senior vice president of exploration, Kevin McLachlan, and his team for a well-deserved win.

Three other awards were announced at the event: 

  • Discovery of the Year (2019)
  • New Venturer of the Year
  • Explorer Best Adapted for the Energy Transition

Discovery of the year is also based on Wood Mackenzie’s survey of exploration industry opinion. Over 200 senior business leaders and experts voted for the discovery that they consider to be the most exciting of the year.  

 Dr Latham said: “This is a vibrant business and in nearly every category you can doubtless imagine more than one worthy winner. Last year was another good year for exciting new discoveries, including  Glengorm, Orca, Brulpadda, Dinkov and Jethro. There were plenty of big finds, new plays, even company-makers.

“The 2019 Discovery of the Year award goes to Maka Central in Suriname. Congratulations to operator Apache and partner Total, farming-in just ahead of well completion, for what looks to be the first of many great finds in Suriname’s new deepwater play. We already seen follow up success in Block 58 at Sapukara West and more drilling is ongoing.”

 The New Venturer of the Year award reflects the need for explorers to continually renew their portfolio. The capture of good acreage is ultimately the key differentiator in exploration performance. The award is based on our survey results and our analysis of licensing and farm-in deals over the year.

Dr Latham said: “Both our research and wider industry opinion reached the same conclusion.

Our winner is Qatar Petroleum, who we’ve seen making bold moves into high-impact opportunities across many different proven, emerging and frontier plays.

“Qatar Petroleum embodies the future in terms of high-impact exploration from National Oil Companies. It is building an impressive acreage footprint in many of the world’s most exciting basins, partnering with some of the best operators in these plays, the majors. This strategy has already brought success in South Africa (at Brulpadda), in Cyprus (at Glaucus) and in Guyana.”

 Our third award recognised the company that is seen as best placed for the energy transition. It is based on the results of our 2020 exploration survey and so reflects the views of explorers across the industry.

“Clearly, there are many factors that are considered important here,” Dr Latham said. “Where does exploration fit into the company’s overall strategy for the transition? How clear are its intentions and goals? How is the strategy communicated?

“Our shortlist, perhaps unsurprisingly, names all five of the European majors. We also have two of the E&Ps, Kosmos and Lundin, that have been among the earliest to reset their activities for a lower carbon future.

“Our winner in this category is Shell.”

Shell is pulling ever lever to reduce its carbon footprint, with its new climate ambition having three strands, within a 2050 timeframe:

  • Reduce net carbon footprint (NCF) of all energy products it sells, covering Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions;
  • Net-zero absolute basis on Scope 1 & 2 emissions associated with all of the products it manufactures;
  • Work with customers to decarbonise their use of Shell energy products.

Shell will move in step with society, with progress checks every five years.