Global discoveries up 35%, with deepwater leading the way

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Global discoveries of conventional oil and gas continue to show promising growth, with new finds totalling 6.7bn boe in 1H2019, according to the mid-year assessment of upstream data by Rystad Energy.

The 1,123mn boe average monthly discovered volumes year-to-date reflect an approximate 35% uplift compared to the 827mn boe seen in 2018, reports the company. So far, 2019 has been a year of gas discoveries, which hold a majority (63%) share compared to liquids, a phenomenon not seen since 2016.

‘Offshore discoveries in Russia, Guyana, Cyprus, South Africa and Malaysia are propelling what is already a very successful year for international E&P companies. With deepwater finds contributing half of the discovered volumes, it can be inferred that high-risk frontier plays in the deepwater are back on the map for explorers,’ says Rohit Patel, Senior Analyst at Rystad Energy.

Majors and integrated national oil companies, with their high-risk appetite and successes in frontier regions, have dominated conventional exploration performance, accounting for more than an 80% share of 2019 discovered volumes. Rystad Energy analysis has identified 56 global conventional discoveries so far this year, 30 of which are located offshore.

In 1H2019, Russia was the leader of the pack in terms of total discovered resources, followed by Guyana, Cyprus, South Africa and Malaysia.

In Russia,
Gazprom announced two big gas discoveries in the Kara Sea off the north-western part of West Siberia's Yamal Peninsula Dinkov and Nyarmeyskoye. Together, these discoveries hold nearly 1.5bn boe of recoverable gas resources. Dinkov, the larger of the two fields, holds 1.1bn boe of resources, making it the largest discovery so far this year.

In Guyana, ExxonMobil’s spate of oil discoveries continue in the Stabroek block, with three major discoveries reported in 2019 –Tilapia, Yellowtail (oil) and Haimara (gas-condensate). These three fields could collectively hold almost 800mn boe of recoverable reserves. ExxonMobil’s success rate in the 15 wells drilled so far on the Stabroek block stands at an impressive 86%. First oil from the block is expected in mid-2020.

ExxonMobil also made headlines in the Mediterranean Sea, notching up its maiden success with the giant Glaucus gas discovery off Cyprus. The discovery is estimated to hold 700mn boe in recoverable resources and is the second major find in Cypriot waters after Eni’s Calypso gas discovery, which has a similar resource size. ExxonMobil is lining up an appraisal campaign on this discovery in 2020. Eni and partner Total are also planning to begin a five-well drilling programme off Cyprus later this year.

In  South Africa,
Total’s Brulpadda wildcat completed in February in block 11B/12B made a large gas-condensate discovery in the deepwater Lower Cretaceous Post-rift Paddavissie Fairway. Total and partners in the block have reported that the discovery could hold 1bn barrels or more. Results from PVT analysis and technical validation are still being assessed in an effort to confirm the resource size. Rystad Energy currently estimates the discovery resource size at between 500600mn boe. Four additional prospects – Luiperd, Platanna, Woudboom and Blassop – have been de-risked within the fairway and a multi-well drilling campaign targeting oil in the eastern side of the fairway is expected to commence on the block in early 2020. The campaign might be carried out in stages as the operational window in the area is limited to December to March. The Luiperd prospect, with a pre-drill resource estimate of more than 500mn boe, might be spud next.

Thailand’s national energy company PTTEP unveiled a major offshore gas discovery with the Lang Lebah-1RDR2 exploration well in SK410B license in Malaysian waters. Rystad Energy estimates the discovery could hold between 2
2.5tn cf of gas. The discovery is believed to be the largest discovery ever made by PTTEP as operator and is in alignment with the company’s strategy to expand its footprint in the region.

Figure 1: Map of global conventional discoveries >100mn boe in 1H2019
Source: Rystad Energy

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