Global discoveries on the rise as majors take a bigger bite

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Oil and gas exploration is off to a flying start in 2019, with majors taking a bigger bite of the conventional resources discovered in the first quarter, according to Rystad Energy. Global discoveries of conventional resources in the first quarter reached a robust 3.2bn boe. Most of the gains were recorded in February, posting 2.2bn barrels of discovered resources – the best monthly tally on record since August 2015.

‘If the rest of 2019 continues at a similar pace, this year will be on track to exceed last year’s discovered resources by 30%,’ says Taiyab Zain Shariff, Upstream Analyst at Rystad Energy.

Majors are leading the charge in exploration, reporting more than 2.4bn boe of discovered resources. The six largest discoveries by the majors each exceed 150mn boe, and the top three could even hold more than 300mn boe apiece.

ExxonMobil was the most successful, with three significant offshore discoveries accounting for 38% of total discovered volumes. European majors Total and Eni are also in the fold, with successful offshore wells in South Africa, the UK, Angola and Egypt.

Meanwhile, Repsol’s operated Kali Berau Dalam gas find in Indonesia takes the prize for the largest onshore discovery of the quarter.

From a global perspective, the push for substantial new discoveries shows no signs of slowing down, with another 35 high impact exploration wells expected to be drilled this year, both onshore and offshore. Three such highly prospective wells are already underway – the Shell-operated Peroba well, off Brazil, with pre-drill prospective resource estimates of 5.3bn boe; Eni’s Kekra well in Pakistani waters, with pre-drill prospective resource estimates of 1.5bn boe; and the Total-operated Etzil well off Mexico, with pre-drill prospective resource estimates of 2.7bn boe.

‘If these wells prove successful, 2019’s interim discovered resources will be the largest since the downturn in 2014,’ Shariff remarks.

Figure 1: Top 15 conventional discoveries in 1Q2019, in min boe
Source: Rystad Energy

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