The Exploration Revived Award is instigated by the Norwegian Petroleum Society as a recognition of companies who have made outstanding exploration efforts on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in order to locate new oil and gas resources and thus contribute value to the Norwegian Society.
It is therefore with great pleasure that we introduce the finalists for the exclusive Exploration Revived Award, in random order:
In 2016, ConocoPhillips successfully revived their exploration strategy with focus on the Norwegian Sea and North Sea, and a shift in attention from numbered rounds to APA acreage. The company has taken a holistic exploration approach, integrating regional-play based assessments, large scale reprocessing of broadband seismic, advanced rock physics and big data analyses. They emphasize the value of working with partners, vendors, and from harnessing expertise within their greater company. The thorough work has led to a successful operated drilling campaign with four discoveries in four different plays; Busta and Enniberg in the North Sea, and Warka and Slagugle in the Norwegian Sea. For Busta and Warka they challenged prevailing paradigms and trusted their analyses around the stratigraphic traps in deeper environments, and for Slagugle and Enniberg they fully leveraged seismic image improvements to illuminate the detailed trapping configurations. The nomination committee wishes to commend ConocoPhillips for their stamina and exploration focus, and their willingness to test new and underexplored play models and trap types as well as more traditional prospects across the NCS.
Equinor has successfully revived exploration in the Fram area with their timely initiative to ensure optimal use of existing, critical infrastructure. The company has recently reorganized and exploration is no longer a business area but it cannot go unnoticed how successful their northern North Sea drilling campaign has been. The Blasto, Echino South, Swisher and Røver Nord discoveries, among others, are the results of an integrated team effort from exploration and production and the utilization of digitalization technology to efficiently investigate new and old data. This has enabled Equinor to renew exploration concepts in mature areas and to establish a large prospect portfolio. Though modest sized, the discoveries are all likely commercial and will bring valuable reserves replenishment and lifetime extension to mature infrastructure in the area, thus contributing to the Norwegian society as a whole. The award committee wishes to applaud Equinor and for their long term commitment to exploration and efficient drilling campaigns on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
The very first licence on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, licence 001 was awarded to ExxonMobil in 1965 and several oil discoveries were made in the northernmost part of the Utsira High. Decades later ExxonMobil’s Norwegian business was acquired by Point Resources and in turn merged with ENI to form Vår Energi. A large exploration portfolio in old production licenses changed ownership during this process and in November 2019 Vår Energi announced that they had identified 17 prospects and leads in the 001 and 027 licences alone. The King/Prince discoveries are the first prospects drilled by Vår Energi in this acreage and we expect that more will be announced in the near future. It is encouraging to see how mature areas can be revived after having been overlooked in a global exploration portfolio for decades, and that new constellations with new ideas can revive exploration – with significant value creation as a consequence. To the award committee, it demonstrates that the Norwegian Continental Shelf still has a lot to offer, and that new technology combined with old technology, more new data combined with old data, and new ideas combined with old concepts is likely to unlock further potential. With the Norwegian society as the main beneficiary.