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International conventional exploration over the last decade has been a rollercoaster ride. It began with optimism fuelled by an oil price boom and new oil provinces opening in Brazil, Ghana and Uganda. This stimulated a frontier exploration drilling boom along with the creation of a new generation of exploration companies. It has ended with an oil price crash, dramatic cuts in exploration budgets and soul-searching about poor exploration results and the future of conventional exploration.

This note reflects on the last ten years, drawing out some lessons this observer has learned from watching and analysing industry behaviour and performance. Few are new and many may sound obvious but collectively, the industry seemed to forget or ignore them. The lessons have been grouped under the headings of business environment, technology, exploration processes and philosophy, and creating commercial value.

As first published in the October 2017 edition of Petroleum Economist

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