Over the last twenty years of the 20th century, exploration departments of most E&P companies habitually delivered only about half of the new reserves they promised to their directors. In the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, over an extended period, all active participants together delivered only 38% of expected reserves (Figure 1).

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As BP showed, technology is not solving the problem: for 125 consecutive global deepwater prospects drilled in the 1990s decade—a campaign that utilized state-of-art technologies—BP's exploration delivered only 45% of expected reserves (Figure 2).

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Furthermore, this is not just an “exploration problem”—many of...

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