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The James Watt Lecture.

Thu 24 Jan 2019 at 18:00 PM - Edinburgh
Exploration New Ventures: From Idea Generation to Opportunity Capture

Eric Hathon, Exploration Director, Cairn Energy

This Scottish Oil Club Event is held in partnership with the Watt Club, the alumni association of Heriot-Watt University, who have a long-held tradition of recognising James Watt’s birthday each year by "supping" together. In recognition of Heriot-Watt’s long established association with the Scottish Oil Club, the annual January "James Watt Lecture" be delivered by a leading commentator who will address aspects of the role of oil and gas in the broader energy sector. The role of research and contribution of universities in supporting industry to address global societal challenges will also be discussed. After the presentation there will be the opportunity to network, "sup" together and toast James Watt’s contribution to science and engineering.

Sponsorship is provided by Watt Club, Heriot-Watt University, and Scottish Oil Club.

This event occurred on: Thursday, 24 January 2019, 6 p.m.

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Special funding for the James Watt Lecture evening.

Funding for student participation from member universities provided by Scottish Oil Club.


Generating value from an evolving exploration portfolio of prospects which mature into a choice of material drilling targets is essential for most upstream oil and gas companies. To maximize the potential that exploration opportunities will be economically robust and drive portfolio value they must demonstrate compelling subsurface, commercial and above ground attributes. These must be evaluated holistically to capture the true value potential and risk profile; they cannot be treated in isolation. This must be done expeditiously to stay ahead of the competition. We will discuss how properly assessing each of these elements and their relative contribution to total prospect or play value is critical to maximizing the chance of commercial success and ensuring the EMV of the portfolio is enhanced.

We will review the interplay between these critical components during the evaluation of new entry opportunities: 1) subsurface elements, deriving play and prospect chance of success and in-place resource volumes, 2) Commercial value, which encompasses fiscal terms, recoverable volumes, development concepts and path to commerciality, and 3) above ground risk assessment (AGRA), identifying non-technical issues which could stifle monetization and/or generate unacceptable risks to people, the environment, property and reputation. Cairn’s recent new opportunity entries will provide cogent examples.


Eric Hathon holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology from Michigan State University, and a Master of Science and a PhD in Geology from the University of Missouri. He joined Marathon Oil Corporation in 1991 as a geologist and held a variety of management positions, including production manager in the Gulf of Mexico and exploration manager for the southern U.S., Norway, Angola and Libya. Eric was named Manager of International New Ventures in 2011 and Director of Exploration for Marathon in 2015. In 2017 Eric joined Cairn Energy as Director of Exploration based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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