A methodology for assessing the oil and gas potential and forecasting the associated exploration activity in a frontier or partially explored petroleum basin is presented here. The models discussed are an integral part of a microeconomic simulation of petroleum endowment, exploration, development, production, transportation, and distribution. The first two components of this simulation, the geology (endowment) model and the exploration model, are the main topics of this paper. The geology model simulates an inventory of prospects and generates an associated resource assessment. The exploration model simulates the economic evaluation of these prospects and the drilling decisions for each, generating a sequence of discoveries (and dry wells) over time that form an inventory of deposits to be evaluated for development. The learning process in exploration is explicitly incorporated in the simulation through Bayesian revision of the simulated explorationist’s perception of the geology. The approach has proved useful in the evaluation of alternative land use policies and should also be useful in exploration planning at the play and basin levels.
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There is a continual need to update estimates of oil and gas resources remaining to be discovered, and also to refine the methodologies for making these assessments. In 1974, AAPG sponsored a research conference dealing with the above topics, and many of the papers presented there were published in AAPG Studies in Geology 1. As a follow-up to that volume, a U.S. Geological Survey workshop was held in 1983, and many papers from talks presented there, in addition to several other papers, are contained within this volume. The 22 papers have been grouped into two types: those describing methodologies for evaluating resources and those presenting assessments of both conventional and unconventional resources.