Global oil and natural gas discoveries in 2021 were tracking to hit their lowest full-year level in 75 years and decline considerably from 2020.

Total discovered volumes through November were calculated at 4.7 billion boe, according to an analysis by Rystad Energy. No major discoveries had been announced through the first three weeks of December, setting the industry on course for its “worst discoveries toll since 1946.”

By comparison, around 12.5 billion boe was unearthed around the globe in 2020, the consultancy noted.

“Liquids continue to dominate the hydrocarbon mix, making up 66% of total finds,” the Rystad team said of 2021 discoveries. 

Seven were announced in November, with an estimated 219 million boe of new oil and gas volumes. Through Dec. 20, the monthly average of discovered volumes in 2021 stood at 424 million boe. The reduction in cumulative volumes “highlights the absence of large individual finds, as has been the case in previous years,” according to researchers.

“Although some of the highly ranked prospects are scheduled to be drilled before the end of the year, even a substantial discovery may not be able to contribute toward 2021 discovered volumes as these wells may not be completed in this calendar year,” said Rystad’s Palzor Shenga, vice president of upstream research. “Therefore, the cumulative discovered volume for 2021 is on course to be its lowest in decades.”

Yoti West Tops

The Yoti West discovery off the coast of Mexico was the largest announced discovery in November, according to Rystad. Russia’s Lukoil estimated Yoti holds around 75 million boe of recoverable resources. An assessment plan is to be developed based ​on additional drilling results, Lukoil said. The company won rights to the block, which it shares with Italy’s Eni SpA (40%), in 2017.

“The discovery strengthens Lukoil’s cumulative discovered volumes in the North American nation,” the Rystad researchers said. “However, these volumes are still insufficient for commercial development and would require further discoveries of a comparable scale before a development concept could be drawn up.”

Still, the discoveries “give hope to Mexico that the country can halt or slow down its production decline. Several wells were scheduled to be drilled in blocks offered in various bid rounds, many by leading international oil companies.”

Another big discovery in November was offshore Malaysia, Nangka-1. It was the second successive exploration well drilled within Block SK 417. 

The wildcat, drilled to a depth of 3,758 meters, was by Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Public Co. Ltd., which has followed other discoveries offshore Malaysia by PTTEP, as it is known. Sweet gas was discovered within the Middle to Late Miocene Cycle VI clastic reservoirs, researchers said.

Norway also is continuing to unearth “small-to-medium finds, providing an opportunity to materialize these discoveries with available infrastructure,” according to Rystad.

In early November, state-owned Equinor SA announced an oil discovery off the Norwegian coast that may hold up to 62 million boe. The discovery, the sixth in domestic waters this year, is north of the Tyrihans field and west of the Kristin development in the Norwegian Sea.