PROUDLY, they call themselves elephant hunters. They are the geologists who scour the treacherous depths of the Arctic, or Brazil’s Atlantic pre-salt fields, or offshore west Africa, or the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to bag giant oil discoveries that can generate billions of dollars of cash for their firms over a span of decades. In some cases, they get naming rights. The Gulf of Mexico is peppered with fields named after geologists’ wives (risky if they are duds), or their favourite albums, bands, stars and football chants. They are part of the industry’s folklore. The question is, are they a dying breed?
Several prospective deals announced this month, from the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to onshore Iran, suggest that the industry may be shying away from expensive forays into uncharted territory, and taking a more cost-conscious approach to exploration and production. It remains to be seen whether they can maintain their discipline if oil prices recover. But, for now, “they’ve all gone back to the drawing boards,” says Andy Brogan, an oil-and-gas specialist at EY, a consultancy.
On December 1st BP, a British…Continue reading