Oil and gas exploration is arguably the riskiest of all commercial activities. As a result, the utilization of probability and statistics in the oil and gas industry is becoming widely accepted as a method to estimate oil and gas exploration prospect size. Analysis typically utilizes the Monte Carlo simulation method and one of the commercial statistical packages such as @Risk or Crystal Ball.
An exhaustive discussion of the Monte Carlo method can be found in Decision Analysis for Petroleum Exploration by Paul Newendorp and John Schuyler. An interesting collection of articles addressing exploration risk can be found in The Business of Petroleum Exploration published by The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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