News Release

Wood Mackenzie’s new multi-factor analysis pin-points advantaged reservoirs

Granular subsurface data is key to understanding advantaged resources

While there’s no arguing that the energy transition is upon us, one thing is for sure: oil and gas will play a significant role in meeting energy demand for decades to come. The upstream industry remains active and must fill the 450 billion barrels equivalent (boe) of undeveloped supply needed by 2040. Today, there is no resource shortage overall, but the supply opportunity is overshadowed because the industry has a lot more supply than demand. This means only the best oil – the most advantaged resources – makes it to the market.

So how do industry players make sure they’re investing in and producing “advantaged resources”: oil resources with the smallest carbon footprint, lowest cost, and quickest path to the market. Simply put, advantaged resources start with advantaged reservoirs. Analysis performed by Wood Mackenzie’s new Lens Subsurface Discovery solution – a one-of-a-kind repository of global subsurface data – recently revealed how granular detail such as porosity, depth, and gross depositional environment (GDE) can pinpoint locations with the best reservoirs, and ultimately, the best oil and gas. With actionable insights now available at the push of a button, investors and operators can position portfolios as competitive as possible. “Visibility into these granular details is truly unique,” said Alana Tischuk, Senior Subsurface Research Analyst for Wood Mackenzie. “Only by looking at a wide population of similar reservoirs can operators understand how their recovery factors benchmark,” she added.

In traditional analysis, analysts often assess oil resources based on generalities or broad assumptions. However, when trying to understand where to get more oil, precision is key. Wood Mackenzie’s recent analysis illustrates how to use Lens Subsurface Discovery to isolate oil recovery factors in reservoirs because according to Tischuk, “Increasing the recovery factor of maturing projects could significantly boost the economics of a mature asset.” This process revealed exactly which attributes impact recovery factors, separate from general assumptions and ultimately answered questions about how to get the best oil.

Identifying advantaged resources is only part of the equation. In addition to providing a clearer picture of where the best oil is, Lens Subsurface Discovery is critical for getting a full view of how a particular portfolio is positioned. Analysts can benchmark performance with the most detail, look for signals that might not be obvious, and perhaps most importantly, guard against incorrect signals in overly generalised data. This is exactly what Wood Mackenzie’s oil recovery factor analysis showed – that theoretically, influence on recovery factor is predictable, but only when all factors are created equal. There are many variables that can impact findings about porosity and the ability to limit factors and see a granular level of detail about certain reservoir settings offers more accurate discoveries.

Why does understanding the oil landscape with this level of specificity matter? Because it offers visibility into data that others cannot see, and can perhaps, help investors or operators capture value, upside, and opportunity that may otherwise go unnoticed. In the case of Wood Mackenzie’s analysis, understanding what attributes impact oil recovery factors helped answer their pointed question, ‘Which countries have the best performing deepwater reservoirs?’ “We found that 80% of the remaining deepwater oil resources will come from five countries (Brazil, US, Gulf of Mexico, Guyana, Nigeria, and Angola), therefore, understanding the quality of their reservoirs is key to identifying who has the best oil,” added Dr Andrew Latham, Vice-President Subsurface Research for Wood Mackenzie. Lens Subsurface Discovery showed that Brazil and Angola have the lowest recovery factors, but that they also have the potential to improve this using various technologies and techniques.

Deepwater oil recovery factor by production start year

“The most important revelation we found using Lens Subsurface Discovery is about how relationships between attributes can show trends and outliers,” said Tischuk. “We see better correlations when multiple factors are considered and the global dataset allows us to filter through multiple attributes to guide the benchmarking of recovery factors.”

So what does this mean for operators looking to strategically act on upstream opportunity? The ability to find advantaged, or potential advantaged reservoirs, is absolutely necessary to ensure the best outcome, and the best oil. With a tool like the Subsurface Discovery, operators can now better position themselves to capture upstream opportunity in an important moment in our energy history.