Oil-Discovery Costs Rise for Independents

Bloomberg News

Union Pacific Resources Group and Swift Energy Co. saw costs for adding oil and natural gas reserves rise in 1997, while companies such as Chevron Corp. and Amoco Corp. saw their costs fall. A study of 82 oil and natural gas producers by Los Angeles-based Jefferies & Co. shows the cost of adding reserves for small- to mid-capitalization companies increased from 1996 to 1997 but decreased for larger companies. Smaller companies focused their efforts on acquisitions to gain reserves, while larger companies focused on drilling, especially internationally. The study found that in 1997, the cost of finding oil and natural gas reserves for the 66 independents studied rose by 27% to $6.51 per barrel of oil and natural gas equivalent, from $5.14 per barrel. Finding costs for the 16 majors studied fell by 6%, to $3.86 from $4.09.

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