To paraphrase literary icon Mark Twain, reports of the death of exploration are exaggerated. Substantial industry investment in exploration continues. Oil and gas are expected to form an essential part of the energy mix for future decades and, despite abundant discovered resources, new exploration is driven by the need for companies to replace their reserves, as well as by the energy security concerns of individual countries. Competition also drives exploration — if a company can discover and produce a new resource cost-effectively, it can displace a more expensive product in the market.
The commitment to ongoing exploration is seen every day in the activities of oil companies, both large and small. The recent discoveries in the Black Sea and in Neuquén Basin, Argentina highlight the potential rewards. Many underexplored basins exist in the world, but discoveries are not as common as they used to be because more complex plays are being explored that carry greater geological risks. A focus on improving geological prediction through the vast array of geoscience techniques and tools at the disposal of the industry should significantly help improve exploration success and reduce finding costs.