Oil and gas companies discovered 12.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in 2019, the highest volume since 2015, according to estimates from Rystad Energy.
There were 26 discoveries of more than 100 million boe last year, with offshore regions dominating the list of new oil and gas deposits.
Guyana continued to be a success story. ExxonMobil added four new discoveries within its offshore Stabroek block, while Tullow Oil’s Jethro and Joe exploration wells established the presence of a working petroleum system to the west of the Stabroek block.
Rystad estimates that the discoveries in Guyana hold cumulative recoverable resources of around 1.8 billion boe.
“ExxonMobil can be declared explorer of the year for a second year in a row thanks to its ongoing efforts and results in Guyana, along with significant investments in Cyprus. The supermajor was exceptional, both in terms of discovered volumes and value creation from exploration,” Rystad Energy upstream senior analyst Palzor Shenga said.
ExxonMobil discovered around 1.07 billion boe in additional net resources in 2019.
Rystad estimates the value creation from these volumes to be around $2.7 billion, driven by the Guyana prospects.
BP’s Orca gas field off the coast of Mauritania was not only the largest single discovery, but also the deepest-water find of 2019. Rystad estimates that Orca holds about 1.3 billion boe of recoverable resources.
Recent gas discoveries in the region now support plans to build an additional LNG hub in the Bir Allah area in Mauritania, according to Rystad.
Other key offshore discoveries in 2019 included Total’s Brulpadda in South Africa, ExxonMobil’s Glaucus in Cyprus, CNOOC’s Glengorm in the United Kingdom and Equinor’s Sputnik in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea.
Many of 2019’s high-impact wells did, however, turn out to be duds, according to Rystad.
“Although the discovered volumes for 2019 surpassed the preceding year, it was a disappointing year for high-profile wells as many prospects with significant estimated pre-drill resources failed to deliver. Over 10 billion barrels of estimated pre-drill volumes were at stake in wells that failed to encounter hydrocarbons,” Shenga said.