Every new oil well was an exploration well at some point.
Exploration depends on the technology that is used to detect and determine the amount of these deposits using exploration geophysics.
An exploration well is a hole drilled deep into the earth’s surface; the hole is thought to contain hydrocarbon deposits.
Areas that are deduced to contain oil or natural gas undergo a gravity survey, magnetic survey, passive survey or regional seismic reflection survey to discover the features of sub-surface geology.
After the surface is detected, identified and evaluated, an exploration well is drilled to confirm the availability of oil or natural gas.
Prior to drilling the exploration well, the company has to evaluate the likely impacts on safety, health and security of living things around the area as well as the environmental, social and human rights impacts.This will help to identify the appropriate steps that could be taken to reduce impacts and manage risk.
Most frontier exploration is now offshore, where a single exploratory well can cost $150 million, and the success rate is about 1 in 5.
It typically takes several years before an exploratory well can be brought into production.