The exploration history of the large Eastern Mediterranean Basin, which encompasses the Nile Delta, Levantine, Herodotus and Eratosthenes provinces, has seen several phases of rejuvenation since exploration started in the 1950s, with new plays opened repeatedly after the basin was considered mature by the industry. The 584 exploration wells drilled to date have discovered more than 23 Bboe recoverable reserves/resources, mostly gas. The first discovery was the Abu Madi Field, in 1967, which opened the Messinian clastic play. Over time, other plays and sub-plays were opened, including the Serravallian–Tortonian, the Plio–Pleistocene, the Oligo–Miocene in the Levantine, the intra-Oligocene and the Cretaceous carbonates. The exceptional variety of plays, with different trapping styles, reservoir and seal facies patterns has few equivalents worldwide and makes the region a valuable training ground for explorers. The geological variety is not the only reason for such a complex and episodic exploration history: commercial (gas market) and geopolitical issues have also had an impact on the activity in parts of the basin. The largest discoveries have been made in the last 10 years (Tamar, Leviathan, Zohr) and, despite the intense exploration activity, parts of the basin remain underexplored. The company with the longest and most successful play opening history in the basin is Eni. Today, most major oil companies are active in the basin, which even after 70 years is still considered one of the world's exploration hotspots.

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