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ConocoPhillips oil and gas exploration summary

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Report summary

North American unconventionals lie at the heart of ConocoPhillips' strategy as it phases out deepwater exploration. This is part of an investment shift towards flexible unconventional development and exploration in shorter-cycle, more competitive basins. The company posted a strong organic performance in the key liquids-rich plays. Further upside is likely from legacy Permian acreage. A higher-impact conventional exploration strategy 2008-2015 yielded large volumes but value was elusive as resource commercialisation proved difficult. Here, we analyse ConocoPhillips' conventional and unconventional exploration strategy, and its exploration performance over the period 2007-2016, including investment, well activity, volume discovered, discovery cost, reserve replacement ratio, value creation and rates of return. The report includes a detailed data download.

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    ConocoPhillips oil and gas exploration summary

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Table of contents

    • Basins drilled and all conventional & organic unconventional discoveries 2007-2016
    • Upstream strategy
    • Exploration outlook
    • Evolution of exploration strategy
  • Investment and costs
    • Well data
  • Reserves and resources
  • Production
    • Unconventionals out-perform
    • Conventional exploration under-performance from a low-risk legacy strategy - now being re-booted
    • Higher-impact strategy provided greater materiality but destroyed value, leading to exit

Tables and charts

This report includes 24 images and tables including:


  • Exploration & appraisal spend and reinvestment
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by water depth
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by basin maturity
  • Discovery costs by water depth
  • Volumes discovered by year
  • Volumes discovered by water depth
  • Volumes discovered by country
  • Volumes discovered by basin
  • Production from new field discoveries and organic unconventionals, and as a proportion of all future production
  • Executive summary: Image 1
  • Net active exploration acreage by water depth
  • Net active conventional exploration acreage by country
  • Exploration wells drilled and spend per well
  • Exploration success rates
  • Full cycle value creation by year, including unconventionals
  • Exploration returns by year, including unconventionals
  • Costs and development value by reserve category
  • Exploration returns by water depth


  • Top 40 discoveries (2007 to 2016)
  • Key organic unconventional plays
  • Full-cycle economics
  • Ten year performance summary
  • SWOT grid
  • Gross conventional exploration & appraisal wells by basin and sector

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