exploration efforts are essential to identify badly needed new reserves.
Yet the exploration segment of the industry remains somewhat lethargic
— for a number of reasons.
mid-cap E&P company reported an average success rate of 82 percent
for the last three years, according to industry veteran Stuart Burbach,
who presented some of his views on exploration during the Perspective
2004 forum at the recent AAPG Property and Prospect Expo (APPEX)
however, is attributed in large part to such relatively low-challenge-type
projects as infill drilling, shallower completions, step-outs and
the like — in other words, non-exploration.
bottom-line thing, according to Burbach, who cautioned the audience
not to fall into the "90-day report card" trap, referring to Wall
Street's unrealistic demand for specific growth numbers from the
E&P companies every three-months.
yet related, issues he cited for stalling exploration efforts include:
- Fear of loss of investor confidence.
- Fear of downgrading by analysts.
- Industry-wide beliefs that acquisitions are better (safer?) targets.
- Capitalized effects of front-end cost G&G items to company's
now, it seems the industry has forgotten about making discoveries
and is focusing its efforts on anything but exploration," said John
Seitz, co-chief executive officer and director of Endeavour International
Corp., during his keynote luncheon talk at APPEX.
seems to be a lack of high quality exploration opportunities, which
is what I'm hearing from a lot of people," he said.
companies might take to remake their exploration efforts include:
- Rebuild the tried and true methods of their internal capabilities.
- Build virtual organizations and access a worldwide network of
experts (companies often engage experts just retired or laid-off).
- Outsource all or some exploration, supplementing the portfolio
with a variety of prospects from a variety of sources. The market
cares about the portfolio and the predictability of investments,
not necessarily where they originated.
is there a market for exploration prospects, there's an even stronger
market for discovered fields," Seitz said. "In a newly developed
field, you can play along the value chain depending on expertise,
data and capital.
is hungry for higher returns to be delivered by exploration success,"
Seitz said. "Private equity providers and drilling funds are looking
at skilled managers to select drilling opportunities, and looking
for skilled teams for ready-to-drill prospects. Investors in these
are looking for opportunities that provide a greater ROR.
must be realistic with your program," Seitz noted. "If you're realistic,
then portfolios will include your projects."
and access to data can be formidable obstacles to generating drillable
prospects, particularly for small independents/prospect generating
teams. Seitz presented a how-to scenario to make things happen:
- Put together like-minded professionals with the right combination
- Invest in computers.
- Invest in office space, or work from home as a virtual team, communicating
and sharing data over a broadband connection.
- Offer an exclusive arrangement to investors for startup capital.
- Cut a deal with seismic company for data and services.
prospect is key to exploratory drilling, even the best prospect
is not enough, Seitz cautioned. Non-G&G uncertainties can be
formidable and have a dramatic impact on any project. Political
risk, commodity prices and project timing all impact project profitability.
presented a general outline of steps the industry as a whole can
take to reverse the trend to drill the easy, known accumulations
and go after the more challenging stuff that has the potential to
beef-up reserves meaningfully:
- Set aside a percentage of the budget for exploration, and do not
waiver (champion the cause).
- Be prepared to really take risks (analysts must understand).
- Keep the staff on the project to completion (give people time).
- Believe in the process (if it's a play or a concept, stay with
- Legislate for an energy policy that treats front-end cost realistically.
- Enjoy this wonderful business; no other job is as rewarding or