Managing Technological and Financial Uncertainty: A Decision Science Approach for Strategic Drilling Decisions

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This paper presents a framework to improve the quality of investment decisions in petroleum. The model presented enables the decision-maker to explicitly consider two major objectives when evaluating new petroleum opportunities—financial and technological gain. We utilize MultiAttribute Utility Theory (MAUT) to consider simultaneously the technological challenges of petroleum exploration into the capital budgeting process of an exploration and production firm. The MAUT methodology presented in this work demonstrates that in some mature areas the advantages to exploration are restricted further only to financial gain, based upon the present economic potential of the basin. On the other hand, other seemingly less attractive areas, such as deep horizons in deep-water basins, may represent attractive targets for new exploration as a result of the interaction of financial gain and technological advancement. This advantage reflects the technological gain as a key factor for future operations for oil discoveries in areas with big geological potential. The model presented in this work enables the decision-maker to consider explicitly the risk and rewards associated with both financial and technological payoffs, the decision-maker's tolerance for those types of risks, and the relative importance of each of those objectives in the context of ongoing petroleum exploration decisions.

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