After Alaska Flop, Shell's Search For Oil Moves Closer To Home

"Those will not necessarily be giant discoveries but (will be) very efficient and very rapid to get to production, and therefore to cash," Powell said. In the past six years exploration has added 6.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent to Shell's reserves, which reached 11.75 billion at the end of 2015, while the time from exploration to production has come down significantly, she added.

Other oil majors have adopted similar strategies. BP has begun drilling hundreds of metres below a reservoir produced by the Ravenspurn ST2 platform in the southern North Sea, searching for a new gas resource that could transform a basin first exploited 50 years ago and extend the life of infrastructure.

For Shell, the success of the new strategy and the Alaskan failure mean it will not return to frontier areas in the near future, but Powell still sees opportunities for big discoveries in the likes of west Africa, Namibia, South Africa, Uruguay, eastern Canada.

(editing by David Stamp)


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