non North American country is most favored by energy companies for
-- for the third year in a row -- is Libya, outranking the number
two and three choices of the United Kingdom and Australia, according
to the annual Robertson International New Ventures Survey for 2002.
based in North Wales, United Kingdom, has been conducting similar
surveys for about the past 15 years, based on information it receives
by polling oil companies involved in E&P ventures outside North
America, according to director Michael E. Scrutton.
are asked to rate, in a confidential questionnaire, their level
of interest in new ventures in 146 countries.
survey, the results of which were released earlier this year, there
were about 70 responses, down from 115 about four years ago -- due
mainly to consolidation within the industry.
looked back on the list four years ago, I saw that 37 companies
listed then no longer exist," Scrutton said.
that it would take someone with a good handle on his company's activities
about two concentrated hours to answer the some 20-30 pages of checklist
questions, which can be answered over the Internet.
in determining their criteria, will consider a variety of factors
-- technical, economic and perhaps political," Scrutton said. "However,
they use whatever criteria they want. We don't impose any."
the survey basically asks whether a company is "very interested,
interested, has little interest or no interest" in any particular
country. Robertson then crunches the number according to its scoring
system, which results in the rankings, one down to 146.
also asks other information about attitudes toward new ventures,
which is also tabulated and analyzed.
100-page hardbound report is sent to the participating oil companies,
but is not otherwise published.
companies) certainly don't all respond," Scrutton said, "but we
feel there is a sufficient cross-section from the super companies
to the small independents to provide a good overview of the industry,
and therefore a valid sample of attitudes and interest."
regard the information as too sensitive and confidential to share,
even though each response is kept confidential, Scrutton conceded.
that, although a lot of the study "is common sense and all very
explicable on the basis of knowledge available in the market place,
this provides a useful semi-empirical confirmation for what you
decide is going on.
also a useful benchmark for a company's own activity," he said.
"It may have a new venture strategy that it may wish to check against
what is happening in the industry generally."
For a country
such as Libya, there are certainly political ramifications, Scrutton
acknowledged, especially for companies in the United States, which
has sanctions against Libya. But Scrutton describes the survey more
as a wish list than one that necessarily will be acted on.
it can have an impact. Countries that want to attract exploration
are aware of the rankings, he said, and indicate that they realize
that a modification of an antagonistic political stance may be a
way to make them recipients of the revenues resulting from exploration
is a brief rundown of the top 10 (top 12, really, since there are
-- Contract negotiations and awards are slow and Libya is under
sanctions by the United States. No matter, the hydrocarbon potential
appears to be so huge that Libya tops the rankings for the third
year in a row.
Venezuela opened up in the mid-1990s and went to the top of the
ranking but has steadily slipped, not only because of the deteriorating
political situation, but even before because of the arrival of fiscal
and legal disincentives.
Kingdom -- "The UK has always had one of the best fiscal regimes
in the world," Scrutton said, "but in the last few years there has
been less exploration being carried out by the large oil companies,
for they have perceived that the big new reserves are not there
other hand, despite falling down in the ranking for three years,
the UK has bounced back because the country has become attractive
to smaller independents.
all votes in the survery are equal. In other words, a small independent
has the same "vote" as a super multi-national.)
-- "(It) offers a wide range of opportunity both on- and offshore,"
been a reasonably high success rate, and the government on both
the federal and state level has maintained competitive fiscal terms
and a very aggressive annual program of offering new acreage.
-- (tie) The country "has promoted opportunities for development
over the past few years that appeal to a variety of oil companies,
from the very largest, for some of the projects are very big, and
because the sedimentary basis is still under-explored but believed
to be very good," Scrutton said (see
-- (tie) Despite sanctions and "a fiscal environment that is not
one of the world's best," the government is offering participation
on buy-back contracts, Scrutton said, and there are significant
oil and gas fields already discovered, with huge quantities of hydrocarbons
to be developed (see note this page).
-- It's been very successful in the last few years in attracting
new investments, due to an aggressive promotional campaign by national
oil company (EGPC) and the level of exploration success of gas off
of the Nile Delta and oil discoveries in the Gulf of Suez and the
Western Desert (see related stories).
-- A former number one in the ranking, the country has slipped due
to social and political instability. There is still much hydrocarbon
potential to be explored and exploited (see page 15).
-- An emerging player, especially since releasing a range of opportunities
for exploration in the past few years that were previously unavailable.
(Rating taken prior to offering. See page 15.)
-- A first-time listing in the Top 10, even before announcement
of the proposed "Multiple Service Contract" formula by the government
agency, PEMEX. Just the possibility has created a lot of excitement
(see page 15).
-- (tie) Site of some spectacular deepwater discoveries that, in
turn, have stimulated interest in other areas of this coastline
(see page 14).
-- (tie) Another newcomer to the Top 10, thanks to the discovery
of some huge gas reserves (see note this page).
Trinidad -- A major oil discovery in 2001 propelled this small
country into the Top 10.