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Exploration drilling activity, discovery history and creaming curves in the offshore UK are analysed for each UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) basin and each play in the North Sea from the earliest wells drilled in 1965 until the end of 2017. Around 52 Bboe of commercially recoverable oil and gas has been discovered, with around half of this volume found in the first 10 years of exploration.

UKCS exploration plays are generally at a mature or super-mature stage and the exploration challenges reflect this. Although technical success rates have steadily increased since the 1990s, pool sizes are becoming smaller. In...

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