A brief review of exploration history of continental shelves and slopes is followed by a discussion of the different methods of assessment of exploitable hydrocarbons.
The first step in deep water exploration now underway is for subsided portions of former continental shelves. Exploration techniques and methods in these regional are the same as those used in unexplored basins of the continental shelf.
Far more important by size and volume are the large sedimentary wedges in the oceanic portions of marginal basins below the continental rise. Accumulation in these poorly structured basins must be predominantly in stratigraphic traps.
In order to make these potential resources exploitable, the exploration risk must be reduced by improving and developing methods and tools which allow localizing hydrocarbon accumulations and estimating recoverable volumes by means of geophysics and geochemistry prior to drilling.