In conventional exploration, we are executing a strategy focused on both short-term value through established ventures and mid-term growth by expanding our heartlands with selective investments in emerging basins and limited frontier positions.
Since the BG combination, we have sustained our focus on cost reduction, continued to build stronger portfolio positions, and reduced our planned spend in exploration to around $2 billion for 2018. Our investments are balanced between:
- exploration near our existing assets, which can be brought on stream and start to generate value quickly;
- testing new geological concepts and finding new oil and gas resources within our existing heartlands; and
- focusing on areas where hydrocarbons have been discovered by us or others without yet becoming major producing regions, making them less risky propositions with a higher chance of success than true frontier positions.
In 2017, we made a notable discovery from the Whale deep-water well in the US Gulf of Mexico, potentially one of our largest exploration finds there in the past decade. The well encountered more than 427 metres of oil-bearing pay. Whale is operated by Shell (60%). It was discovered in the Alaminos Canyon Block 772, adjacent to the Shell-operated Silvertip field and approximately 16 kilometres from the Shell-operated Perdido platform. Evaluation of the discovery is ongoing, and the first appraisal well to further delineate the discovery has been completed. In addition, we made a further 12 discoveries close to our existing assets across our global portfolio.
In 2017, we restocked our Conventional Oil and Gas portfolio by adding exploration acreage in Brazil, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, the UK and the US Gulf of Mexico.