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All exploratory activity in central and southern Africa decreased in 1983, reflecting world economic conditions and excess productive capacity. Concessions or production-sharing contracts of various types continued to be fairly tightly held in the more prospective countries, but many parcels are available in areas where the risks are greater.
Seismic activity has declined sharply from its peak year of 1981. Decreases of 19% in 1982 and 36% in 1983 have brought this activity to the level of the depressed mid-1970s. Land operations suffered the greatest drop in 1983, whereas party-months of marine work increased slightly. 3-D recording continued to be used but at a reduced rate compared with 1982. Large aeromagnetic surveys were made in several countries; however, the coverage was less than in 1982. Gravity continues to be used to supplement other geophysical work, but other exploratory techniques are being used infrequently.
Total wells drilled dropped from 464 in 1982 to 387 in 1983. Most of the decline was in exploratory drilling, which dropped from 132 to 86 wells. This was reflected in the number of discoveries, which decreased from 48 to 27 while the success rate continued about the same. Development drilling continued at a high level in Cameroon and Congo, whereas in Nigeria the emphasis shifted to the drilling of appraisal wells. In all, 2,937,708 ft (895,643 m) of hole was drilled, a decrease of about 20% from 1982.
Oil production of 673,075,667 bbl in 1983 was an increase of 1.7% over 1982's production, bringing cumulative production to over 12 billion bbl. Marked increases in production were recorded in Cabinda, Ivory Coast, and Congo. Production from Nigerian fields continued to dominate this part of the world as they contributed about 67% of the annual production and 75% of the cumulative production.
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