Africa, Latin America lead surge in high-impact drilling activities amid optimism for 2024 – Rystad

The global upstream industry is eyeing a rebound in high-impact oil and gas drilling in 2024, with Africa and Latin America poised to be the driving forces behind these activities. According to Rystad Energy, a total of 36 high-impact wells are identified for drilling this year, marking the highest annual total since tracking began in 2015.

Of the 36 wells expected, Africa and Latin America take center stage, hosting 13 and 10, respectively, contributing to nearly 64% of the global total. The remaining wells are distributed across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, and Oceania, with a notable highlight being TotalEnergies’ exploration plans in Papua New Guinea.

Despite lackluster performance in 2023, with only 30% of the 27 high-impact wells resulting in commercially movable volumes, Rystad said the industry remains optimistic about 2024. It classifies high-impact wells based on factors such as prospect size, unlocking new resources, and strategic significance to operators.

While the success rate in 2023 fell below the annual average, Rystad Energy outlined that companies continue to invest in frontier and emerging areas, shifting towards a more targeted and long-term exploration strategy.

“This shift is expected to persist even if success remains modest in 2024,” the Norway-based company said.

Of the planned high-impact wells, 14 will explore frontier and emerging basins, three will open new plays, and eight will target significant offshore and onshore resources. If all goes as scheduled, Rystad Energy pointed out that 2024 is poised to witness the highest number of high-impact wells drilled in at least a decade.

Oil and gas majors, including BP, Chevron, Eni, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies, are set to dominate these drilling activities, contributing to 44% of the total wells planned. The Atlantic margin and Asian waters will be key locations for most drilling, with national oil companies (NOCs), internationally focused NOCs (INOCs), and upstream operators also playing a significant role.

In Africa, around 70% of wells will focus on frontier and emerging basins, with key projects in the Red Sea, Angoche basin, and Namibe basin. Latin America, particularly offshore Argentina, will be a focal point, while only two of the 12 wells planned in the Americas are set for North America.

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