On Earth in 2017, finding oil or coal deposits is a tall order. However, consider a science fiction scenario where we find a habitable planet that hasn't hosted an intelligent species in at least a hundred million years, so has fossil fuel deposits in easily accessible locations. Is there a way to find them from the air, or even better from orbit, using today's sensor technology?
Early exploration for oil tended to focus on two things - the presence of oil seeps at the surface, where oil migrating from source rocks was reaching the surface, and topographical highs, which often correspond to geological uplifts that form hydrocarbon traps.
Both of these features should be detectable from orbit. We look for evidence of surface hydrocarbons which are very unstable in an oxygen atmosphere, and therefore must be recent - and topography that indicates suitable underlying geology. This would give a set of candidate drilling areas. The classic Earth location for this would be the Zagros mountains in Iran.
This would only find the most obvious locations, and you'd still drill a lot of dry wells, but it would give you a great start.
It could be done using XIX century technology. Gravity change, magnetic field change and electrical resistance is the "advanced" technics. You could use Eoetvoes's torsion balance.
If you can have specialised station on orbit you just equip it radars and map the planet.
Anyway, you would search for the fuel the same way you search for it on earth. How do you think they find oil in Mexican Bay? Looked for oil ring on the surface?
Remote sensing as it is called has been in use for many decades, even simple stereoscopic photographs taken from the air or satelites can be of use to a Geologist looking for oil. These enable them to look at the ground surface and look for evidence of geological features such as salt diapers, and faulting that are known oil and gas traps.
Magnetic and Gravity surveys also give clues to the presence of oil in the strata below the Earth. Radar can be also used from space to map the Earths surface and map it. This chapter in Google books from Remote Sensing: Principles and Applications, Third Edition by Floyd F. Sabins might be of interest to read.