Dynamic discovery portfolio

Chapter 4: Recovery

Differing assessments mean that discoveries can move in and out of the portfolio. At 1 January 2016, it comprised 90 development projects. That figure had been reduced to 77 by 31 December, even though 18 new discoveries had been made during the year.

A discovery has been made when a wildcat well proves mobile hydrocarbons in the sub-surface. Hydrocarbons may have been found in several different formations or deposits, but are still regarded as a single discovery.


Categories in green show an increase and those in red show a drop in the number of discoveries from the resource accounts at 31 December 2015.

Explanation of the changes

  • Two of the new discoveries in the portfolio were made before 2016, and bringing them on stream was earlier regarded as unlikely. Studies are now under way for possible development, and projects are therefore regarded as more likely than before.
  • Six of the discoveries were included in submitted PDOs or applications for exemption from a PDO in 2016.
  • Ten are included in other discoveries (further exploration activity and studies of alternative development solutions mean that several discoveries have been merged into a single project). The biggest contribution in this overview comes from a possible joint development of several discoveries south of Oseberg Sør in the Krafla area of the North Sea. These were previously represented by four projects, but five new discoveries made in the area during 2016 led to all nine being unified into one development.
  • Resources in four of the discoveries have been transferred to the resource base for various fields. Three of these are sanctioned for development, and one is already on stream.
  • If a profitable development solution cannot be developed, the discovery is classified as unlikely to be developed. Thirteen of the discoveries regarded as likely to be developed or not assessed in the NPD’s resource accounts for 2015 belong to this category. In addition, one discovery made in 2016 is considered unlikely to be developed.

Many of the discoveries where development is unlikely lie in relinquished acreage. Relinquishment of such areas give new licensees an opportunity to re-evaluate these discoveries for development if conditions change, and they could be brought on stream later.


The NPD updated its resource classification system in 2016. This aimed to harmonise the description of the system with terminology used in other contexts, and to clarify the relationship with the decision milestones used in maturing Projects.

READ MORE: Updating the NPD’s resource classification system