Industry honours best-in-class explorers

LONDON and HOUSTON and SINGAPORE, July 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Italian major Eni won its third consecutive Most-Admired Explorer title, an accolade awarded in conjunction with Wood Mackenzie’s industry-leading annual Exploration Survey.

Eni’s chief exploration officer, Luca Bertelli, accepted the award – which Eni has won for three years in a row – at the inaugural Wood Mackenzie Exploration Awards ceremony, held in conjunction with the subsurface and consultancy business’ annual Exploration Summit on 20 June, 2018.

Dr Andrew Latham, Vice President, Global Exploration Research, at Wood Mackenzie, said: “For the past 10 years, Wood Mackenzie has named the industry’s Most-Admired Explorer after collating the results of our industry-leading annual exploration survey. The survey canvasses views across the sector, marrying Wood Mackenzie’s understanding of the sector with industry opinion.

“We ask respondents to name the explorer they most admire. The award typically recognises big discoveries, ideally as operator and in new frontiers. With this year’s award, Italy’s Eni seals a hat-trick, having won in 2016 and 2017.”

Wood Mackenzie’s Exploration Awards build on our Exploration Survey. This year we broadened our approach, naming the outstanding companies in the sector, recognising the challenges and successes of the past year, and celebrating their success at a gala dinner.

Four other awards were announced at the event:

  • Discovery of the Year (2017)
  • New Venturer of the Year
  • Best Explorer of Unconventional Plays
  • Best E&P Explorer

Wood Mackenzie also honoured Bobby Ryan, who recently retired from Chevron, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to global exploration.

While 2017 was a good year for exciting new discoveries, Talos Energy’s Zama find, offshore Mexico, stood out, earning them Discovery of the Year. Talos’ partners are Premier Oil and Sierra Oil & Gas. Zama is a big find in a new play and looks set to be a company-maker. It is also one of the first foreign-operated discoveries in Mexico since international oil companies returned to the country after an absence of over 70 years. This award was made based on our survey of exploration industry opinion, which saw more than 200 senior business leaders and experts vote for the discovery they consider to be the most exciting of the year.

The New Venturer of the Year award reflects the need for explorers to continually renew their portfolio. Wood Mackenzie has long argued that the capture of good acreage is the key differentiator in exploration performance. This award was based on Wood Mackenzie’s survey results and our analysis of licensing and farm-in deals over the year. Both our research and wider industry opinion reached the same conclusion. Our winner is ExxonMobil, a company prepared to place big bets on high-impact opportunities in both proven, emerging and frontier plays.

With the phenomenal growth of US shale plays, onshore exploration has become a key area of interest.  For the Best Explorer of Unconventional Plays award, we looked at company efforts at opening and extending unconventional plays.  When we compare our research with our survey results, where we asked which unconventionals explorer was most admired, EOG Resources was the clear winner.  EOG has grown its output to over 650,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, due in large part to its exploration and development of US unconventional resources. 

The Best E&P Explorer award reflects the tremendous contribution the smaller and mid-sized companies make to the sector. The award is again based on a mix of our research and our survey. Once more, both industry and Wood Mackenzie’s analysis reached the same conclusion. Our winner, Kosmos Energy, achieved the largest net resources found last year of any company and received the most votes in our survey.

Bobby Ryan, who recently announced his retirement from Chevron after a long and distinguished career at the helm of its global exploration business, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr Ryan led Chevron’s global exploration business following its merger with Texaco in October 2000.

Dr Latham told guests at the gala dinner: “The list of discoveries made during his long tenure is impressive. Among the operated finds made during his watch were Wheatstone in Australia, Usan in Nigeria, Tahiti in the Gulf of Mexico and Rosebank in the UK.

“The Gulf of Mexico proved a particularly rich seam with St Malo, Big Foot, Jack, Blind Faith and Chevron’s latest discovery, Ballymore. Wood Mackenzie estimates that the total gross oil and gas reserves in discoveries made on Bobby’s watch is close to 30 billion barrels.”

He added: “We are pretty sure that his subsequent tenure lasting over 17 years sets the record for length of service at any major. Bobby is a worthy recipient of the award.”

About Wood Mackenzie:
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Contact: Anthea Pitt, anthea.pitt@woodmac.com