Westwood releases annual exploration report

WESTWOOD Global Energy has published its annual report into oil and gas exploration, reviewing the last five years of data and providing a brief snapshot into what it thinks lies ahead for industry.
Westwood releases annual exploration report Westwood releases annual exploration report Westwood releases annual exploration report Westwood releases annual exploration report Westwood releases annual exploration report

Paul Hunt

Senior Journalist: Oil & Gas, Policy.

Paul Hunt

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Data from Westwood shows that up until the COVID-19 pandemic, and the oil price crash brought about by Saudi - Russia tensions, drilling and discoveries were up as much as 39% on 2018. 

More than 15 billion barrels of oil equivalent had been found in 2019 with average commercial success rates increasing to 32%. 

The success rates were the highest in at least a decade, driven by exceptional results in emerging plays such as the new frontier region of Guyana. 

"There were 28 potentially commercial discoveries larger than 100mmboe, close to double the number in 2018 and the highest since 2014," Westwood said. 

The four largest discoveries were gas or gas condensate in Iran, Russia, Mauritania, and Cyprus and most volume from high impact discoveries was gas for the first time since 2016. 

There were eight oil discoveries greater than 200 million barrels, three of which were offshore Guyana.

Westwood noted the importance of stratigraphic traps, saying geological traps without a structural component were becoming increasingly significant. 

"Stratigraphic traps have often been considered higher risk than structural traps. This is not the case anymore," Westwood said. 

"The proportion of wells targeting stratigraphic trap prospects doubled over the last five years and commercial success rates have been significantly higher, at 41%, than other traps." 

More than 20Bboe have been discovered in stratigraphic traps, which is higher than all other trap types combined. 

However, there is a significant gap in follow through with development generally. 

Westwood noted 51% of the high impact resources discovered since 2008 remain undeveloped. 

"This offers a significant opportunity and competition for exploration if the barriers to commercialisation can be removed," Westwood said. 

The firm also noted  the role of national/state-owned oil companies were expanding, and more NOCs had expanded internationally from their home countries and were looking to participate in more overseas exploration ventures. 

"At the same time, the energy transition and capital constraints are beginning to drive more companies away from frontier wildcats into short cycle and infrastructure-led exploration," Westwood said. 

The firm noted access to capital for exploration was becoming more difficult for smaller companies. 

Despite the oil and gas industry internationally being hit hard by the global financial crisis of COVID-19 and the shattered oil price - which shows early signs of recovery - Westwood said  "now is the time to renew portfolios," with competition lower and governments desperate to sustain exploration.