Of the 100 000 wells drilled globally in 2013, 4% were exploration or appraisal wells. In 2018, this share is expected to drop to only 2% of the 70 000 wells drilled. This trend can be observed across both the offshore and the onshore markets and across the globe.
In the offshore market share of exploration wells has changed from 35 to 24%. We’ve seen the most significant drop in South America as the Brazilian exploration market dried up during the downturn.
The onshore market has seen even a bigger reduction. The share of exploration wells dropped from 3.0% to 1.3% due to drastic cuts in North America and the Middle East.
The willingness to invest more in exploration in 2019 and beyond is likely as oil prices are likely to stay at current levels for some time. However, E&Ps will also prioritize development and infill drilling, so we don’t see the share of exploration wells to improve until 2020, when focus on reserve replacement is expected to become more imminent.
Head of Oilfield Service Research
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