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BP and Rosneft were the only companies to have delivered over 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent in discoveries last year due to their exposure in Russia which yielded 48 percent of the world’s discovered resources, Westwood Global Energy Group said in a new report on 2021 high impact exploration.
Overall, the volume of discovered resources globally was disappointing, dropping from 19 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in 2020 to just 6.6 billion boe in 2021, Westwood said. Of the discovered resources last year, 36 percent were oil and 64 percent were gas.
As in 2020, discovered resources in 2021 were mainly concentrated in a small number of large discoveries in Russia, which accounted for 48 percent of all global discoveries last year, according to Westwood.
Outside Russia, discoveries in 2021 were at the lowest level—3.4 billion boe—in more than a decade, since at least 2008.
“Frontier exploration drilling fell to the lowest level ever recorded by Westwood (since 2008) with only 15 frontier wells completing and only one making a potentially modest-sized commercial discovery,” wrote Jamie Collard, Senior Analyst, Global Exploration and Appraisal at Westwood.
Exploration in emerging plays was dominated by discoveries in the Suriname-Guyana basin offshore South America, where four discoveries added an additional estimated around 1 billion boe.
The most active high-impact explorer was Exxon, with 13 wells drilled, followed by TotalEnergies, Petronas, and Shell with nine wells each. However, due to their exposure to Russia, only Rosneft and BP delivered more than 1 billion boe net.
Spain’s Repsol and Italy’s Eni, which have some of the most ambitious net-zero targets in the industry, fell out of the list of most active explorers participating in only three high impact wells each, Westwood’s analysis showed.
This year, the hotspots for drilling will be mostly in South America, particularly in the Suriname-Guyana Basin and offshore Brazil. The Gulf of Mexico will also be a hotspot, both offshore U.S. and Mexico, and key wells are also expected in the Flemish Pass offshore Eastern Canada, Westwood said.
“The 2022 exploration programme is dominated by commitment wells on licences acquired prior to 2020. Things may change in 2023 and beyond, as current portfolios are drilled out and if acreage is not renewed in response to energy transition pressures,” Westwood’s Collard said.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com