2018 was the best year for global oil and gas exploration since 2015, according to Rystad Energy. Discovered resources surpassed 8.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), with the number expected to grow to 9.4 billion boe by year’s end.
An upwards trajectory
The 2014 oil price drop – driven by a recession and rapidly declining demand for oil – effectively halted oil and gas exploration.
The following four years saw adjustments made to expenditure as well as investment in new solutions and technologies that will improve operational efficiency and place a greater emphasis on fiscal responsibility.
The new explorers
Guyana, Russia and the United States topped the discovery rankings in 2018. Russia had the largest single find, estimated to hold recoverable resources of 960 million barrels of oil equivalent. The country reported in July that its oil production had reached a new 30-year high. With predictions raised to 3.9 billion boe for 2019, Russia is relying on exploratory efforts to help meet demand.
The US became the world’s largest oil producer this year for the first time since 1973. While production in Texas’ Permian Basin was at the centre of the country’s oil boom, growing production has been bolstered by offshore discoveries such as those in the Gulf of Mexico – bringing in an estimated additional 728 million boe.
Guyana is a newcomer to the industry, having discovered oil in 2015. As a country with the smallest GDP of South America, oil has the potential to transform the country’s economy. Plans are in place to produce 750,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025. Additional reserves discovered in 2018 will help Guyana meet this goal.
While exploration investment has been on the rise since 2014, spending has decreased by nearly 61 per cent in the same period. Oil and gas companies are finding cost-effective solutions that de-risk expenditure as much as possible.
However, increased oil production creates a by-product – natural gas. If there is no infrastructure in place to manage this excess gas, operators are forced to vent or flare it for safety reasons. There are regulations in place that limit flaring, and companies will need to rely on accurate monitoring and measurement technology to understand and track the amount of natural gas being flared.
One of the most accurate ways to measure flare gas is with ultrasonic technology. Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter uses ultrasonic technology to effectively provide measurement data, allowing oil and gas companies to better identify the processes that result in the most gas flaring.