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Abstract: Review and Application of Petroleum-Finding Rate Methodologies to Appraisal of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources in United States

Betty M. Miller

Almost all workers have used some concept of "finding rate" or "discovery rate" to assess and project the availability of future oil and gas resources. However, several finding-rate definitions have evolved, because the terms and units of measurement vary from method to method. Regardless of the definition used, the ultimate purpose of determining finding rates is to permit statistically valid projections of resource availability based on historical data, commonly within a set of given geologic and economic conditions, and measured by some unit of exploratory effort.

In 1976, the Federal Energy Administration (FEA) asked the Resource Appraisal Group of the U.S. Geological Survey to review and analyze all known methodologies used to determine finding rates and to determine the data requirements for each. The Group also was asked by the FEA to investigate the feasibility of developing a "better" methodology for determining the finding rate for crude oil and natural gas--one that would be compatible with the resource appraisal procedures established by the Resource Appraisal Group for oil and gas in basins and provinces.

The results of the study are (1) a comprehensive review and analysis of the basic procedures for determining finding rates and compilation of data requirements; (2) testing and application of various known methods of determining the finding rate to the exploration statistics in three petroleum provinces; and (3) the development of a series of methods for projecting finding rates for petroleum provinces in one of three stages of exploration and drilling--maturely and semimaturely drilled, immaturely drilled, and frontier.

The units of exploratory effort used in the proposed methods of determining finding rate are total oil-in-place and/or gas-in-place found per unit of exploratory footage drilled, as determined by field-size categories and the related depth of fields within a basin. Depth estimates provided can be used in finding-cost studies being conducted independently by consulting groups for the FEA.

All of the methodologies are computerized and new data input can be readily added. The finding rates are projected as minimum, maximum, and mean values, based on projections of the historical trends.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90969©1977 AAPG-SEPM Rocky Mountain Sections Meeting, Denver, Colorado