Fewer wells but sharper focus: global exploration review of 2016



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Report summary

We may come to see 2016 as a turning point for conventional exploration. With sustained low oil prices and corresponding pressure on discretionary spend dictating further deep budget cuts the inevitable result was far fewer wells drilled and far less new volume being added just 7.6 bnboe in 2016. Despite this aspects of the 2016 exploration results can be seen as something of an achievement. Discovery costs were below 2014 levels for the second year in a row and the average field discovery size held up at well over 50 mmboe. Volumes discovered per exploration well were the same as in 2015. Key discoveries in US Alaska Senegal Myanmar and Papua New Guinea have again provided a timely reminder of the potential upside from frontier exploration. As explorers focus on acreage re load for the longer term the sector looks set to emerge from the extremely tough last two years leaner and more efficient making smarter portfolio choices and able to achieve more with less.

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    Global Exploration 2016 in review.xls

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    Fewer wells but sharper focus: global exploration review of 2016

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Table of contents

Tables and charts

This report includes 11 images and tables including:


  • Conventional new field volumes discovered
  • Volumes discovered - excluding mega-plays
  • Conventional new field discovery costs
  • Exploration well success rates
  • Distribution of giant and large oil and gas discoveries (discovery well names shown)
  • Top 30 companies by conventional new field volumes discovered
  • Top 15 countries by conventional new field volumes discovered
  • E&A drilling by basin maturity
  • Proportion of E&A drilling activity


  • Increases from our initial estimate of global new field resources discovered (2011-2016)
  • Play openers, and key follow-up discoveries

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