Oil and gas exploration near historic low, emissions targets loom

Falling interest in efforts to locate new fossil fuel sources comes as time runs out to maximise on fresh investments as net-zero targets loom. 

Global oil and gas exploration is slowing, and has fallen to its lowest level since 2000, representing a near all-time-low. 

red and white ship on sea under cloudy sky during daytime

Figures released by Oslo-based analysts Rystad Energy, correct as of the end of August, show just 21 leasing rounds have been completed across the planet in 2022, although this is expected to increase to 44 by late-December. Last year, 42 rounds had been issued in the first eight months, rising to 58 by the New Year’s Eve. 

In addition to a drop in the total number of projects, overall acreage – the size of the exploration blocks – was also in decline, with 320,000 square kilometres offered. Experts pointed to a wholesale change in attitudes, with many oil firms looking to boost resilience amid concerns over return-on-investment with net-zero targets for many countries drawing closer. The Energy Agency announced last year that in order to meet emissions targets in 2050, no new oil or gas fields were needed.

It also urged businesses and policymakers not to make any new investments in fossil fuel projects following its statement, released in May 2021. Nevertheless, cash has continued to pour into the sector in some areas, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent energy crisis helping bolster this. Since the UK appointed a new Prime Minister in Liz Truss concerns have been mounting about new North Sea licenses being issued for exploration, with the Conservative leader already publicly confirming her support for this, along with her Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Jacob Rees-Mogg

Image: Emmaus Studio


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