Inspiration from a history of explorers
Thanks to a long lasting maritime tradition and experience from dealing with harsh environments, Norway has fostered some of the greatest ocean and polar explorers in history. Building on a heritage of adventurers, Equinor has become a world-leading explorer for oil and gas.
A leading global explorer
Despite a more challenging industrial context with fewer and fewer conventional oil and gas discoveries, we have delivered about twice as much value as we have invested in exploration since 2011.
Why do we need to find more oil and gas?
Our exploration heritage
In close collaboration with industry partners, authorities and local communities, we have raised the bar of safety standards and drilling efficiency and minimised environmental impact and exploration risk. We have been at the forefront of exploration and production activities in difficult and harsh offshore environments for decades.
We have utilised our knowledge and experience from working on the Norwegian Continental shelf in inhospitable waters such as those off Newfoundland and the Faroes, and drilled exploration wells in more than 1,000 metres of water off the coasts of Brazil, Angola, and Tanzania.
Becoming a preferred operator in the field of exploration is the result of long-lasting efforts and commitment to constant improvement guided by some key principles:
- Safety is our first priority
- Power of collaboration
- Positive ripple effects
- Mutual benefits
- Successful coexistence
Bright heads, right tools, great opportunities
Most of the easy-to-find oil and gas in the world has already been discovered, forcing our explorationists to continuously come up with innovative ideas and utilising the latest technologies. This endeavour strongly relies on collaborative efforts, global perspectives, a culture of inquisitiveness and minds asking ‘what if’ and ‘why not’ in order to develop news exploration ideas and concepts.
Explorers in the early days of polar exploration were admired for their aspirations, persistence, boldness, creativity and knowledge. Today's search for high impact discoveries calls for people with the same personal qualities and level of passion for what they do. In the exploration process, we draw upon resources from all over the world. Well-orchestrated teams of professionals with cross-disciplinary skills and perspectives unlock the full potential that lies in the organisation.
Once the team of geoscientists has been assembled, it's time to start asking the right questions. How have the tectonic plates moved? Is there a source rock, a reservoir and a seal, and do we understand the migration of hydrocarbons?
We believe that our culture of inquisitiveness is unique and drives the idea generation and technology that ultimately leads to new discoveries. Having the best people, data and tools available have allowed us to become one of the leading exploration companies in recent years.
In order to secure continued success in the future, we enable talents and senior- level experts to develop professionally. In Equinor, you can deepen or broaden your set of skills, work with different parts of the world and challenge yourself to deliver and grow.
Meet our geologists
Geologists are an inquisitive lot. Our geologists Allie Thurmond and Brita Graham Wall are good examples. They are passionate about geology and love explaining its connection to our future energy supply.
Exploration is a portfolio game
We consider exploration to be a long-term portfolio game. An opportunity-rich and balanced portfolio is the key to successful exploration.
The typical chance of finding oil or gas in a frontier unexplored area can be as low as 10 to 15 percent, which translates into one discovery for every seventh exploration well. This is why it is essential to have an attractive opportunity set to ensure that we do not fully depend on the exploration results in any single area. As we test the prospects in our exploration portfolio, we need to replenish them with new opportunities to make sure we always maintain optionality.
Another basic principle of a strong exploration portfolio is to maintain an appropriate overall risk-volume-value balance. The geological chance of success varies significantly for different types of opportunities.
While quite low for frontier basins, it increases significantly for exploration near existing infrastructure in mature basins, which enjoy probabilities of 50 percent or above. These prospects also rate high on value, as they can be quickly and efficiently tied into existing infrastructure. On the other hand, these prospects usually deliver lower volumes than frontier prospects.
Equinor has a well-balanced global exploration portfolio, so the risk we are taking in our frontier high-potential wells is balanced by exploration in the mature areas with high discovery rates though modest volumes.
Seismic data—the sound of oil
Seismic data from acoustic waves is one of our most important tools for discovering new oil and gas-bearing reservoirs hidden beneath the surface. Collecting geophysical information is based on the same principles as medical ultrasound, but on a hugely different scale.
High quality data from seismic analysis enhance the probability of exploration success and have been collected onshore and offshore worldwide for almost a century. Seismic vessels bounce sound waves off sub-surface rock structures, and pick up the “echo” using sophisticated microphones.
The data can then be used to identify geological structures and layers, locate potential traps, and sometimes directly predict the presence of hydrocarbons.
Seismic surveying is not only used to search for hydrocarbons, but is also an important tool to monitor the drainage of reservoirs in order to increase recovery.
There are different types of technologies used for acquisition, processing, imaging and interpretation. However, seismic data can’t eliminate sub-surface risk—the data only show the potential for the rock holding oil and gas. To actually find out if it actually holds oil and gas, an exploration well has to be drilled.
Equinor aims to be recognised as a responsible partner for our host communities and partners, and the protection of the marine environment has high priority when Equinor conducts its seismic acquisitions.
A responsible approach
We aim to be recognised as a responsible partner for our host communities and partners, and the protection of the marine environment has high priority when we conduct our seismic acquisitions. To achieve these ambitions we enter into close collaboration and dialogue with relevant stakeholders at an early stage in the exploration process and seek to gain as much knowledge and understanding of possible environmental affects as possible. Equinor always has company representatives on board the seismic vessels, and we also operate under the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) guidelines for minimising the risk of injury and disturbance to marine mammals from seismic surveys.
We focus strongly on successful coexistence with other industries when collecting seismic data. In the planning phase, we have close dialogue with fisheries and other stakeholders to minimize the disturbance caused by the seismic acquisition and prevent conflicts. Ever since the first oil was produced in the late 1960s, Norwegian authorities have contributed to improved coexistence between the fisheries and petroleum industry and provided guidance when companies like ours explore new areas for oil and gas. Based on this Norwegian experience, we believe we are well prepared for taking on new exploration projects, working closely with local interests.
We participate in the E&P Sound & Marine Life Programme. This Joint Industry Programme (JIP) supports research to help increase understanding of the effect of sound on marine life generated by oil and gas exploration and production activity. This research helps governments make regulatory decisions based on the best science and the industry develop effective mitigation strategies.