With many oil and gas industry powerhouses working to refocus their portfolios as part of the energy transition, geophysical and exploration companies are also tailoring their businesses to target new growth areas.

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A long history of innovation and the rapidly growing application of digital technologies are helping to ensure the sustainability of the exploration sector, the IAGC’s 50th annual membership meeting heard last week.

Magseis Fairfield chief executive and IAGC vice chairman Carel Hooijkaas told the event that energy transition is providing geophysical and exploration (G&E) companies with a natural direction for growth.

Citing examples of how offshore producers are funding the energy transition by extracting cash and value from already explored fields, Hooijkaas noted that the G&E industry is “right in the middle” of that process.

“We need to embrace the energy transition,” he said during a panel discussion.

“It's very important for us to not look back, but forward to where the business is going to take us. And this is how we can continue to be relevant.”

The sector will find those business opportunities in areas where it is accustomed to working, according to IAGC chairman and TGS chief executive Kristian Johansen.

"As an industry, we tick off a few boxes already. Some of our data products are a perfect fit for carbon capture, geothermal, deep sea minerals and wind, in terms of deciding where to locate large offshore wind installations where the subsurface data is critical," Johansen said during the panel discussion.

"We as an industry will see significant potential to grow into some of these areas. These industries are still small... but the beauty is that they're growing very fast, and you always want to be part of the growth industry."

Traditional opportunities remain

There is, however, still room for growth in oil and gas exploration. A report by Rystad Energy noted that unless exploration speeds up significantly and capital expenditure of at least $3 trillion is applied to the task, the world will run out of sufficient oil supplies to meet its needs through 2050.

"Our industry will continue to see cyclicality," said Johansen. "We will definitely see another upcycle. If you look back on the previous upcycle that lasted for two years, 2018 and 2019, then you'll see the reason why it ended so quickly was Covid.

"We need to see this with a longer term perspective. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the importance of the geophysical industry for the future. There is definitely going to be a significant need for oil and gas, even two decades from now."

Hooijkaas added: "Yes, there are growth opportunities as part of the overall energy transition. But there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done still in the oil and gas business.

"With the right messaging, I think we can get people interested back into our business as a whole. And not necessarily just oil and gas, but as the offering in its totality."