The Eastern Section is thriving with exciting industry activity in several shale plays and with outreach programs for K-12 earth science, student chapters and young professionals. One goal that has been achieved was to bring “new blood” into the leadership of the ES and to include young professionals in leadership roles. In addition, we have finally rolled out our new (and greatly needed) website. URL: http://www.esaapg.org/
Shale Industry Activity
The big industry news in the Eastern Section is the explosion of activity associated with the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh has turned into a natural gas industry hub and in the last year we have seen many more companies moving into the Eastern Section and western Pennsylvania in particular. These companies range in size from start-ups to the large multi-nationals and NOCs. We have seen entries of Exxon-Mobil, Chevron and Shell, to note just a few, that have established sizable staffs in the Eastern Section. Our industry is providing incredible wealth and job opportunities throughout the play area in mostly rural and formerly economically depressed areas.
Along with the excitement and buzz of Marcellus activity have come increasingly ugly protests against the shale resources and in particular against hydraulic fracturing. Any industry event in the area is sure to attract a crowd of protesters who are becoming increasingly angry. DOE and various state agencies have held many hearings concerning the development of the shale. These hearings had previously been overwhelmingly dominated by the anti-frac contingent and AAPG members were a bit late to the game in participating. Speaking out publicly in front of a hostile crowd can be very intimidating, but our members are now stepping up and presenting the facts and data to support responsible drilling and completions. Unfortunately, AAPG members might not be able to undo the damage caused by the previous lack of communication or less-than-responsible operators.
At the end of July, Chesapeake announced that the Utica Shale has been identified as a major liquids-rich shale play and compared it to the Eagle Ford. The play is only in its infancy, but has drawn huge interest and bodes well for the future of additional exploration in Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
Earth Science Outreach – The ES has appointed Amanda Veazey as the new Chair of our Earth Science Outreach Program (ESOP).
The AAPG Foundation has received a commitment of a $425,000 grant over a five-year period to target K-12 earth science training in the ES, and in particular, in portions of western PA and northern WV which are in Marcellus Shale development area. An impressive committee is chaired by Lyle Baie, and includes 2010 AAPG Teacher of the Year, Stef Paramoure, and Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Becky Piscitella, along with other highly motivated members.
This program will be designed to educate primary and secondary teachers in aspects of geosciences, petroleum technology and earth science education. The program will start with a combination of online and hands-on training sessions for teachers that provide content, pedagogy and lab materials for use in the classroom. The main program might not be ready to roll out until early 2012, but we are planning to pair interested geologists with individual schools in a mentoring program.
While the pilot program will target Pittsburgh, the program will be designed to extend to other areas throughout the ES and conceivably throughout other AAPG Sections and Regions.
Student Chapter Outreach – The ES has named Bo McCue as its first Student Chapter Liaison. We had set an imposing goal of adding 50 new student chapters by September 2011. There are 399 colleges and universities that offer degrees in geology or earth science and we had only 12 active AAPG chapters in the ES a year ago. The establishment of new chapters has turned out to be a more daunting task than imagined. The huge areal extent of the ES has presented real challenge to direct contact with the chapters. We are hopeful that 5 or 6 new chapters will be created by the end of the year.
We will hold our first ES Student Chapter Leadership Summit to coincide with our ES meeting in Washington, DC, on September 25, 2011. This summit will include IBA Training, Best Practices and a Job Quest.
Young Professionals – Mike Sullivan was recently named the first ES YP Liaison. Plans call for looking at synergies of joining with existing YP programs already established for the SPE and YPE energy professionals. It may make sense for the AAPG YP program to be a bolt-on to the existing programs.
Section Meeting – The 2011 Eastern Section Meeting was held September 25 – 28 in Washington, DC. Included in this meeting was an outreach to members of congress and staffers with a reception on Capitol Hill.
AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition 2013 – The Eastern Section is proud as punch to have been selected as the host of the AAPG ACE in 2013 located in Pittsburgh, PA. The initial planning has begun in earnest and we are looking to build on the Marcellus and Utica buzz and excitement to host a first-class event. In addition, there are many marvelous field trip opportunities available near Pittsburgh.
I have personally taken up a new challenge as VP of Geology for a brand new Marcellus development company, Mountaineer Keystone, LLC and have a new email address: email@example.com Email