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Forecasting petroleum discoveries in sparsely drilled areas: Nigeria and the North Sea


Decline function methods for projecting future discoveries generally capture the crowding effects of wildcat wells on the discovery rate. However, these methods do not accommodate easily situations where exploration areas and horizons are expanding. In this paper, a method is presented that uses a mapping algorithm for separating these often countervailing influences. The method is applied to Nigeria and the North Sea. For an amount of future drilling equivalent to past drilling (825 wildcat wells), future discoveries (in resources found) for Nigeria are expected to decline by 68% per well but still amount to 8.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). Similarly, for the total North Sea for an equivalent amount and mix among areas of past drilling (1322 wildcat wells), future discoveries are expected to amount to 17.9 billion BOE, whereas the average discovery rate per well is expected to decline by 71%.

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Attanasi, E.D., Root, D.H. Forecasting petroleum discoveries in sparsely drilled areas: Nigeria and the North Sea. Math Geol 20, 763–776 (1988).

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Key words

  • Oil
  • gas
  • sparse drilling
  • resource appraisal
  • discovery process models