Fewer exploration wells were drilled in the first half of 2017, but commercial success rates were up, an analyst has said.
New figures also show that finding costs have come down this year, said Andrew Hughes, head of research for global exploration at Westwood Global Energy Group.
Mr Hughes said his research showed “green shoots” were appearing, though activity was still subdued.
Conventional exploration drilling was a 20% lower in the first sixth months of 2017, compared to the same period a year ago.
Discovered volumes were nearly two times higher while finding costs were halved to less than $0.3 per barrel of oil equivalent.
Some of the biggest exploration successes for the period include Payara and Snoek in the offshore Suriname-Guyana Basin, Eridu in Block 10 onshore Iraq and Qattameya Shallow in offshore Egypt.
Overall, commercial success rates jumped to 53% in the first half of 2017 from 30% for the same period in 2016.
Mr Hughes put the improvement down to companies being more selective in their targets and taking on fewer high risk frontier wells.
However, drilling and spending are expected to be slightly down in 2017 compared to last year, but there remains some uncertainty over plans.
Just five frontier wells were completed in the first half of 2017, with no commercial discoveries made.
Four frontier wells are currently being drilled, with another 10 to 15 expected to commence by the end of 2017.
Mr Hughes said: “The green shoots for exploration drilling are appearing, but overall activity remains subdued.
“The lower well count is translating into more success and lower finding costs, proving that the old exploration mantra of ‘quality through choice’ still holds.”