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High-impact well drilling activity returned to growth in 2021 after a decade-low in 2020 when the pandemic and crash in demand made oil and gas companies slash drilling budgets and defer campaigns.
More than 1,500 exploration and appraisal wells were completed last year, up from the previous year, and delivering at least 13.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), IHS Markit said in a new report on high impact wells.
“Even with the industry challenges, 2021 still delivered from a resource perspective,” Jack Rivers, Director - Technical Research, Global Content, IHS Markit, wrote.
“2021 provided a slight uptick in drilling which is significant considering the headwinds of the continuing pandemic and the challenges to upstream provided by the energy transition,” IHS Markit said.
Around 30 of the discoveries had more than 100 million boe, and delivered 82 percent of total discovered volumes, according to the consultancy.
Many of the top 30 discoveries were drilled with high-impact wells, and 2021 overall was a success for high-impact well drilling, IHS Markit said.
As many as 32 high-impact wells were spudded last year, and some two-thirds of those made discoveries. A number of these discoveries were large, and HIWs in total contributed to nearly half of the newly discovered greenfield resources in 2021, IHS Markit said.
Latin America led in terms of high-impact wells with 17 in total, with eight in Brazil, five in Mexico, and the rest drilled in Guyana, Suriname, Peru, and Bolivia.
This year, more than 20 high-impact wells are planned, while six wells which spudded in late 2021/early 2022 are due to complete in 2022. In addition, there are another 15 high-impact wells that could also spud in 2022. Those are classed as ‘tentative’ where uncertainty remains over their planned drilling status, according to IHS Markit’s data.
“HIWs remain a fundamental aspect of exploration as proven by 2021 discoveries alone. HIW drilling for 2022 will continue to have a global bearing on exploration and there are some interesting wells planned for the forthcoming year,” said IHS Markit.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.