Oil firms seen cutting exploration spending
* 2013 weakest for oil exploration in over a decade
* Firms may pull back from Arctic, West Africa
* Brazil, Gulf of Mexico exploration seen unaffected
* Explorer shares discounted
By Gwladys Fouche and Balazs Koranyi
OSLO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Global oil firms, hit by one of the worst years for discovery in two decades, are about to cut exploration spending, pulling back from frontier areas and jeopardising their future reserves, industry insiders say.
Notable exploration failures in high-profile places such as Africa's west coast, from Angola all the way up to Sierra Leone, have pushed down valuations for exploration-focused firms and are now forcing oil majors to change tack.
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to find new oil and gas, and in particular new oil," says Tim Dodson, the exploration chief of Statoil, the world's top conventional explorer last year.
"The discoveries tend to be somewhat smaller, more complex, more remote, so it is very difficult to see a reversal of that trend," Dodson told Reuters. "The industry at large will probably struggle going forward with reserve replacement." Continuación...