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Chapter 1: Giant Fields and Exploration Trends of the Decade 2010–2019
Explorers found a total of 82 giant conventional discoveries over the decade, defined as fields holding most likely resources of at least 500 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). Collectively, these giants hold total resource volumes of 129 billion BOE, representing 53% of all new field resource adds over the decade. Without these giants, the recent recovery in exploration’s fortunes would have been a quite different story.
Giant oil and gas discoveries were at the heart of key exploration trends over the decade 2010–2019. The middle years of the decade were a period of profound change for the industry. Sharp falls in oil prices led to a broad reduction in the scale of the exploration business. Well completions and investment fell by more than half and look unlikely to recover.
This smaller industry has become profitable again. Toward the end of the decade, a partial recovery in oil prices combined with a broad rebasing of the industry’s costs led to much improved full-cycle exploration returns.
These giant discoveries are widely distributed. There are important clusters in deep-water regions of Brazil, East Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean. Frontier and early-stage exploration is the other common theme among these giant discoveries. By contrast, only 11 giants were found in mature plays, mainly in the super basins of the Middle East, West Siberia, and China.
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