Skip to main content

Report Summary 

This is the twelfth edition of the State of Exploration report and it is published at a time which may come to be seen as a watershed moment in the global energy industry. The drop in oil demand and crash in the oil price associated with the Covid-19 pandemic combined with the reality of the approaching energy transition has made many oil and gas companies rethink the strategy of their entire business. Exploration is a part of that. 2016-2020, which is covered in this report, was looking like the period when the crash of 2014 was behind us and exploration activity levels were beginning to rebound. Then things changed. 2020 closed surprisingly well, considering, with the level of exploration activity and associated performance looking far better than was imagined in the middle of the year. 2021 is expected to see relatively high levels of activity, as wells deferred from 2020 for operational and budgetary reasons are drilled.

High impact exploration activity, discovered resources and success rates 2016-2020
Figure 1: High impact exploration activity, discovered resources and success rates 2016-2020
Source: Westwood State of Exploration 2021 Report


Executive Summary
Section Highlights

1. Introduction and Methodology

1.1 Dataset
1.2 Methodology
1.3 Report structure

2. Global Exploration Review

2.1 Significant discoveries in 2020
2.2 High impact exploration drilling activity and performance
2.3 Frontier play exploration
2.4 Emerging play exploration
2.5 Key global oil and gas plays 2016-2020

3. Frontier and High Impact Exploration Performance by Company

3.1 High impact exploration competitive landscape
3.2 High impact exploration by company
3.3 Frontier and follow-on exploration performance by company

4. W32 Mid to Large Cap Peer Group Companies’ Exploration Performance

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Exploration performance – W32 peer group companies’ overview
4.3 Exploration performance – play maturity analysis
4.4 Infrastructure-led exploration vs. high-impact exploration
4.5 Exploration performance – water depth analysis
4.6 Exploration performance – primary target age analysis
4.7 Exploration performance – W32 company rankings
4.8 W32 companies’ – exploration efficiency ranking
4.9 Impact of exploration on reserves and reserve replacement ratios

5. Pre-drill Predictions vs Post-drill Outcomes 

5.1 Drill-out risk profile trends
5.2 Review of Westwood pre-drill risking 2016-2020

6. Accessing high impact prospects

6.1 Initial license award
6.2 Equity access mechanisms at the time of drilling
6.3 Country access at time of drilling
6.4 Company strategy

7. Progressing Discovered Resources to Production

7.1 Resource progression
7.2 Discovered resource opportunities
7.3 commercialising frontier discoveries

8. Exploration Strategy

8.1 W32 company exploration strategies
8.2 Super-major+ high impact exploration strategy
8.3 NOC high impact international exploration strategy
8.4 Exploration strategy and the energy transition

9. Exploration Look-ahead

9.1 2021 YTD performance benchmarks
9.2 W32 company exploration look-ahead 2021
9.3 Frontier and High impact exploration lookahead 2021
9.4 Key wells to watch