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Shell oil and gas exploration summary

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Report summary

Following the BG acquisition in 2016, Shell is in a generational shift in strategy. It is transitioning from emphasising volume growth to being unequivocally driven by shareholder returns. Integration of BG is allowing it to rationalise the combined acreage and high-grade opportunities to develop a world-class exploration portfolio. Prior to BG, Shell's portfolio was already differentiated by its breadth and diversity. It included incremental potential, new plays in producing 'heartland' basins and high-impact frontier opportunities. BG added acreage and assets in all of these themes. Shell has now renewed focus on capital discipline, and is making swift progress on a planned disposal programme of up to US$30 bn. Its total resource add from exploration over the last decade was 13.6 bnboe. Much of the conventional resource will be challenging to commercialise, but Shell's refocus on low breakeven incremental prospects around existing production hubs is resulting in improved returns.

What's included

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    Shell oil and gas exploration summary

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Table of contents

    • Map shows all conventional and unconventional discoveries. It excludes all unsuccessful unconventional exploration and all activity associated with assets not included within this report.
  • Investment and costs
    • Well data
    • Resource additions for two types of asset are tabulated below - conventional new field discoveries and organic unconventional plays.
  • Production
    • Reserve replacement driven by both heartland regions and unconventionals
    • Unlocking high-return incremental potential in the deepwater
    • The integrated gas player

Tables and charts

This report includes 26 images and tables including:


  • Basins drilled and major discoveries 2007-2016
  • Exploration & appraisal spend and reinvestment
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by water depth
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by basin maturity
  • Discovery costs by water depth
  • Production from new field discoveries and organic unconventionals, and as a proportion of all future production
  • Exploration wells drilled and spend per well
  • Exploration success rates
  • Volumes discovered by year
  • Volumes discovered by water depth
  • Volumes discovered by country
  • Volumes discovered by basin
  • Full cycle value creation by year (conventional only)
  • Full cycle value creation by year, including unconventionals
  • Exploration returns by year (conventional only)
  • Exploration returns by year, including unconventionals
  • Value creation by resource category
  • Exploration returns by water depth
  • Net active exploration acreage by water depth
  • Net active exploration acreage by country


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

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