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Many discoveries have resulted from the high level of activity.Collectively, however, discoveries in recent years have been too small to replace annual production even though several major finds have been made so far in 2011.When oil prices change from stable to unpredictable, the result can be lower capital expenditure.

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That occurred in the early 1980s and has been repeated over the past three years.

However, this pattern was not so clear in the second half of the 1990s and the first five years after 2000.

Figure 3.6 Annual resource growth and production, 1990-2010 Varied discovery success The average discovery success on the NCS is very high by international standards.

Sequential exploration, technological developments and steadily growing knowledge have enhanced the probability of making new discoveries.

The present year could be the first since 1997 in which the resources found are big enough to replace the volume produced.

If production on the NCS is to be maintained at a high level, the size of discoveries must be larger than the average for the past 10 years.Figure 3.4 Resources in discoveries proven in five-yearly periods by discovery size, 1966-2010 Figure 3.5 Cumulative growth in resources, 1967-2010 Since 1998, the annual growth in resources has been lower than annual production.This is illustrated by figure 3.6, which shows resource growth and production per annum.Many wells A total of 1 325 exploration wells had been drilled on the NCS over the 45 years from the first drilling until 31 December 2010.The number of such wells peaked initially in the 1980s, with up to 50 drilled per year. A low annual figure for exploration wells characterised the second half of the 1990s and the first five years after 2000.These moves may have contributed to a higher number of wildcats on the NCS than on the UK continental shelf (UKCS) over the past two years. Figure 3.3 Number of wildcats spudded on the NCS and the UKCS, 1964-2010 Every little helps International experience demonstrates that the largest discoveries in a new petroleum province are made early in the exploration phase, and that the size of finds gradually declines. In a historical context, discoveries over the past 25 years have been small. The contribution of discoveries to resource growth has been substantially lower over the past 25 years than was the case in the first 20 years of Norway’s oil history.

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