Thursday 19 January 2017 5:51 pm

Deep sea oil exploration dips to a new low

Oil exploration has sunk to a level not seen since the 1940's according to the energy consultant, Rystad.

Discoveries offshore fell 90 per cent since 2010 when oil was still in its $70 (£57) range.

In minimising costs, the oil and gas industry has played it smart and cut investment in exploration, where it would hurt the least but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t found oil, Sona Mlada, Senior Analyst at Rystad told City AM.

According to Mlada, oil companies go through a process and they don’t start pumping the moment they make the discovery. There is a middle bit between finding oil and pumping it that the industry calls, sanctioning.

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Sanctioning is when an oil company has made a commitment to invest time and money to transform a field from a discovery site to a production site with the drills, pipe, platforms oil rigs and all the rest.

Mlada has seen more projects that faced delays in the sanctioning in 2015 and 2016 compared to previous years. Last year, 35 oil companies reported projects – fields where oil was discovered – but had a delay in the sanctioning.

One of the largest sanctioned fields in 2016 was the Oseberg site off the Western flank of Norway.

The largest offshore oil discovery that resulted in production in 2016 was off the coast of Angola by the US company, Cobalt.

Rystad Energy is optimistic about exploration picking up after 2018 and that recent license awards will open up regions near Mexico to activity.

Oil prices fell in afternoon trading after the Energy Information Administration reported an unexpected rise in US crude stockpiles. At the time of writing, front month Brent crude was trading at US$54.05 a barrel up .24 per cent from the previous close.