... and not a drop to drink -- no, wait ... Not to butcher "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," but since I've been spending so much time lately attending every single talk I can and inteviewing God and his minions just to have something to write about, I've come across some interesting tidbits. Scott Tinker of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas-Austin gave a talk at a recent Houston Geological Society dinner where he set about discussing various sound bites within the industry, and one which he went to great lengths to debunk was the whole "the world is running out of oil" debate. This brings to mind one of my favorite press release intros: "Oil is getting harder to find." I have, in fact, asked folks from PR firms not to waste my time with that sort of preamble -- I think my readers have a pretty good grasp on that fact already. But is it? Some recent discussions hit home the fact that there is still a lot of underexplored potential in the world. For instance, in last week's blog I noted that there has been no presalt exploration in the Congo Basin offshore West Africa, despite the fact that Petrobras has made some potentially huge finds in the presalt areas of the Campos and Santos basins, which are roughly analogous to the big fields offshore West Africa. Presumably the majors who operate these fields wil start examining the presalt geology once the shallower targets have been drilled up. Secondly, there's Gabon. Our March activity spotlight will focus on this country, which is kicking off a licensing round by hiring CGGVeritas to do extensive surveying of its offshore acreage, including yet more deepwater acreage that is directly analogous to the Tupi and other presalt finds offshore Brazil. While Gabon has considerable hydrocarbon production onshore, those fields are now in decline, and the shallow-water domain has yielded few discoveries. The deep water, on the other hand, could serve up some significant finds. Finally there's the Republic of Guinea. You'll read more about this in my March online newsletter and also in our April issue, but a small Houston-based independent is sitting on 80,000 sq km of highly prospective acreage in an area where only one well has ever been drilled. It needs partners to help pay for more evaluation, but early indications hint at world-class reserves. And this is just off the coast of West Africa. I don't claim to be an expert in underexplored terrain, but I think the industry has plenty of elephants yet to find, particularly in or near countries that have not been open to foreign investment in the past but which may have recently undergone a change in regime. I look forward to the next big announcements.