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Statistical Issues in the Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources

Prior to his untimely death, my friend Dave Wood gave me wise counsel about how best to organize a paper that would describe the uses of statistics in oil and gas exploration. A preliminary reconnaissance of the literature alerted me to the enormous range of topics that might be covered. Geology, geophysics with particular attention to seismology, geochemistry, petroleum engineering and petroleum economics-each of these disciplines plays an important role in petroleum exploration and each weaves statistical thinking into its fabric in a distinctive way. An exhaustive review would be book length. Dave and I agreed that a timely review paper of reasonable length would (1) illustrate the range of statistical thinking of oil and gas explorationists; (2) concentrate on topics with statistical novelty, show how statistical thinking can lead to better decision making and let the reader know about important controversies that might be resolved by better use of statistical methods; (3) focus on topics that are directly relevant to exploration decision making and resource estimation. In response to Dave's sensible suggestions, the U. S. Department of Interior's 1989 assessment of U.S. undiscovered oil and gas will be a tour map for a short trip through a large territory of statistical methods and applications. If Dave were here to appraise this review, I know it would be better than it is.

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Energy Specializations: Petroleum – Exploration and Production; Energy Modeling – Other

JEL Codes: Q35: Hydrocarbon Resources, Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices, Q40: Energy: General, Q31: Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation: Demand and Supply; Prices, L71: Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels

Keywords: Oil and gas, exploration, Statistical methods, oil discovery, Geology

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol14-No1-8

Published in Volume 14, Number 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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