Oil and Gas Exploration
The process of developing a prospect or play is a relatively straight-forward endeavor. Billions of dollars are spent each year generating new oil prospects. The resulting new oil discoveries are the bloodline of the oil industry and essential for long term economic growth and prosperity.
The first step in prospect generation is researching locations (usually focusing on proven petroleum basins) and identifying potential leads.
Once a specific lead has been identified, information from past and existing wells (well logs) in the surrounding areas is used to further qualify the leadís potential oil sources and the geological subsurface structures in the general area.
The task of qualifying an oil lead is typically assigned to geologists, whether employed directly by an oil company or under contract from a private firm. Their task is to find the right conditions for an oil trap -- the right source rock, reservoir rock and entrapment.
Leads can also be qualified through the use of science. By utilizing geophysical surveying and other mapping methods, a lead can become a prospect by providing scientific evidence of oil at a particular location.
Geophysics is the use of surface, borehole, airborne, marine and satellite measurements to examine the properties and structure of the Earth's interior.
The final step in the prospect generation process is securing leases from mineral owners. Once a lead has materialized into a prospect, leases must be secured for an oil company to have the rights to drill for the minerals.