Exploration at the NCS was successfully revived with the introduction of APA rounds and cashback in 2003 and 2005, respectively. However, following several prosperous years between 2010-2012, discovered resources on the NCS have been only moderate.
Although the number of wildcat wellbores increased from 32 in 2012 to 46 in 2013, total discovered volumes went down. The discovered resources in 2014 were only slightly above the 2013 level thanks to the Alta discovery, and 2015 turned out to be a very disappointing year.
Despite the number of wildcat wellbores being only 11% down compared to the peak in 2013, total discovered volumes amounted to only 230MMboe, with Julius in the Central Graben, operated by Statoil, being the biggest discovery in 2015.
In 2016, 13 wildcat wellbores have been drilled as of the end of May, but only around 20 MMboe have been discovered so far.
From a statistical point of view, two main parameters can be used to measure exploration success: 1. Success ratio and 2. Discovered volumes per successful wildcat.
On the NCS the success ratio (share of wildcats encountering hydrocarbons, shows excluded) has been stable around 50% since 2010.
In the same period, average discovered resources per successful wildcat have dropped from over 120MMboe in 2011 and 60 MMboe in 2012 to below 20 MMboe in 2015 and ~10 MMboe in 2016 YTD.
This indicates that the size of an average discovery on the NCS currently is sub-commercial. It also clearly illustrates that a challenge for the future is to discover material accumulations that can be commercial as tie-ins in mature areas and standalone developments in new areas.