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Oil & Gas discoveries resilient in 2020 despite pandemic

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Despite delays in drilling campaigns and reduced exploration budgets due to COVID-19, the volume of oil and gas discoveries globally is set to reach 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) this year, avoiding a repeat of the multi-decade low during the previous crisis in 2016, Rystad Energy said  in a new analysis on Monday.

In 2016, just 7.7 billion boe were discovered globally.

Between January and October this year, a total of 73 discoveries of oil and gas resources were announced, with the combined resources already exceeding 8 billion boe, the energy research company said.

Wildcats planned for the final two months of 2020 could yield more resources and raise this year’s total discovered volumes to around 10 billion boe, Palzor Shenga, senior upstream analyst at Rystad Energy, said.

Of the discoveries announced through October, 36 were onshore and 37 were offshore, with gas accounting for 46 percent of the total discovered resources.

The leader in total discovered volumes this year is Russia, where gas discoveries prevail, followed by Suriname with mostly oil discoveries, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with all discoveries consisting of gas.

Among the companies with the highest resources discovered, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom leads, followed by Total and Apache, which found around 960 million boe and 700 million boe, respectively, mainly thanks to three major discoveries  in Block 58 offshore Suriname, Rystad Energy said.

In 2019, oil and gas explorers discovered 12.2 billion boe, the highest volume since 2015, Rystad said  earlier this year.

Going forward, the research firm said that it expects discoveries to settle in a new normal of around 10 billion boe due to streamlined exploration strategies with fewer wells to be drilled, and growing aversion for drilling in high-risk environmentally sensitive areas such as the Alaskan Arctic, Foz do Amazonas in Brazil, and the Barents Sea off Norway.

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