Oil companies are on track to discover 10 billion barrels this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic temporarily halting exploration activity this spring, according to Rystad Energy.
More than 8 billion barrels of crude and associated natural gas have been discovered so far this year, up from a decades-low 7.7 billion discovered in 2019 during the last oil bust, the analysis said.
“Global oil and gas operators will chase plenty of additional volumes in wildcats planned for the final two months of the 2020, although some may not be completed until early 2021 and will therefore add to next year’s tally,” Palzor Shenga, a senior upstream analyst with Rystad, said in a statement.
Oil exploration activity has remained resilient in 2020, according to Rystad, despite concerns that the global pandemic would drive down crude discoveries to its lowest level in decades. Oil and gas companies have been drilling in mature oil fields such as Brazil and Norway as well as in promising new prospects called wildcats in Suriname, Guyana, South Africa and Turkey.
Most of the discovered oil took place in Russia with 1.5 billion barrels, followed by Suriname with 1.4 billion barrels and the United Arab Emirates with 1.1 billion barrels, the Norwegian energy research firm said.
Companies that made the most discoveries so far this year include Russia’s Gazprom, French major Total and Houston-based Apache. The Houston independent has found about 700 million barrels of oil and gas this year, mainly off the coast of Suriname, according to Rystad.
Despite the prolific discoveries, less than half of the oil and gas discovered this year will be extracted by 2040. That’s because oil and gas companies are scrutinizing projects more closely than before as the pandemic has squeezed their bottom lines. Only the prospects with the highest chance for success will likely be drilled, Rystad said.
This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.