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Majors are re-evaluating their approaches for frontier exploration. (Image source: Rystad Energy)

Rystad Energy has observed that as oil majors such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, TotalEnergies and Eni continue limiting exploration expenses, they will keep a keen eye on frontier exploration for a productive year 

Africa has been one of the regions that have given promising frontier yields with the discovery of gas in Area 1/Area 4 off Mozambique between 2010 and 2013, gas finds off the coast of Mauritania and Senegal between 2015 and 2017, Brulpadda and Luiperd in South Africa in 2019 and 2020 and Venus and Graff in Namibia in 2022.

Shell is continuing appraisal activity in Namibian waters to further prove the extent of its significant discoveries, including Graff, while BP has multiple drilling plans in Egypt, including appraisal drilling at the Raven gas and condensate field, as well as wildcat exploration drilling in the King Mariout offshore concession in the Western Mediterranean. 

"As majors tighten their financial belts, they're cautiously venturing into deeper waters and re-evaluating their approaches for frontier exploration. While we anticipate them to appraise and mature their frontier acreages, we also expect them to continue to focus on familiar territory — regions with established expertise and existing infrastructure that offer quicker monetisation with lower risks,” said Santosh Kumar Budankayala, senior analyst at Rystad Energy.

The energy body has also found that offshore activity soared in 2023, with 39% of blocks awarded in the shelf segment, 28% in deepwater and the remaining 33% in ultra-deepwater. It predicts another 50 (approximately) deepwater and ultra-deepwater exploratory wells this year. Offshore drilling in the deepwater/ultra-deepwater segment might rise to around 35% from last year's 27%.