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Abstract

The title ‘The Value of Outcrop Studies in Reducing Subsurface Uncertainty and Risk’ might suggest that we expect new information to improve prospect risk, but this is not correct. Gaining new information generally does change our estimate of prospect risk: the change may be up or down, and the average of all possibilities is zero change. You cannot acquire data for the purpose of increasing the probability of success. We should expect that: (a) the expected value of the risk of a single prospect, post-data, is equal to the prior (pre-data) value; and (b) risk should become worse for the majority of prospects. New information adds value, not from changing pre-drill risk, but from decisions made as a consequence. The main value added is from identifying prospects not to drill, thereby saving the cost of likely dry holes, and by choosing the ones to test first, accelerating revenue from a successful outcome. Further value is added if the new information leads to the identification of new prospects or new plays, or suggests follow-on potential elsewhere in the region. Value may also be added if the new information is negative for a whole region, enabling us to focus our attention elsewhere.

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