Research firm WoodMac analysed and tracked progress of 11 top NOC explorers and after crunching the numbers estimated original exploration budgets had been cut by roughly US$5 billion (A$7.7 billion) for the calendar year.
According to the research the biggest cuts were made to international exploration spending, with NOCs attempting to keep exploration expenditure higher in their home countries. This is due to "strong government mandates" and the idea that a dollar invested at home remained at home in the form of local employment and taxes.
"While the range of exploration budget cuts for the NOCs is slightly more diversified than that of the majors, conventional exploration remains important for them," WoodMac senior analyst Huong Tra Ho said.
"Most NOCs consistently spent between 12% and 35% of their upstream budgets on exploration, an average of about 17% over the 2015-2019 period. This is significantly higher than the majors' average spend of 8% of upstream budgets on exploration."
The 11 NOCs analysed included three Chinese companies, Thai oiler PTTEP, Brazil's Petronas, Qatar Petroleum, Rosneft, Gazprom, Petrobras, and Pemex.
WoodMac said Petronas, PTTEP and CNOOC had made cuts but held the strongest balance sheets, which allowed the three oil explorers to continue with high-impact exploration.