Promising energy prices can do wonders for an annual meeting.
That was the consensus at the 85th AAPG annual meeting, held in April in New Orleans, where one of the larger AAPG gatherings in recent years featured geologists and geoscientists who were actually smiling about the future.
"This was a wonderful meeting, both in terms of attendance and in terms of information and knowledge that attendees took away from the meeting," general chairman Erik Mason said a few days after the conference ended.
"There's no question that the high price of oil helped create an upbeat mood," he continued, referring to current prices that at meeting time were much stronger than just a year ago, "and that's one reason why everyone seemed happy and ready to have a great time."
But there were other reasons, too.
"The people who helped plan and run this meeting, all of our committee chairs and the hundreds of volunteers, did a great job of providing a high quality convention program focused on helping geologists find and develop hydrocarbons.
"The technical sessions were excellent and well-received, and I think the speakers we had at our various luncheons offered valuable information," he added.
"Short courses and field trips were well-run and well-attended -- many selling out."
Official but incomplete numbers at press time showed total registration for the New Orleans meeting at 6,856. That figure is the third largest total attendance at an annual meeting since the "crash" of 1986; only the 1988 meeting in Houston (7,645) and the 1997 meeting in Dallas (7,073) have drawn more in that span.
Registration totals include attendees from 81 countries outside the United States.
Exhibits, too, attracted the second largest numbers (again, next to Dallas' top figures) in AAPG annals, with 357 exhibitors and 863 booths.
Included in the exhibit numbers were the International Pavilion, which has proven itself to be a popular feature of AAPG meetings -- this year totaling 67 booths, representing 38 countries -- and the Prospect and Property Marketplace, which in New Orleans was expanded and given a new location within the exhibit hall.
"The PPM this year had more exhibitors (54) and more booths (59) than the past two years combined," Mason said. "There was a lot of activity there during the meeting, and some deals sold."
While the newly designed poster format met with limited success, Mason said other "new" features of the New Orleans meeting were accepted and worked well, including the use of PowerPoint in technical sessions; electronic submission of abstracts; and targeted marketing and advertising.
The meeting officially started with the Sunday afternoon opening session, featuring the presidential address of M. Ray Thomasson (left), who recounted recent efforts on his behalf for AAPG, the profession and the energy industry through appearances and his testimony before government officials in Washington, D.C.
The opening session also featured the honoring of AAPG award winners, including presentation of the Sidney Powers Memorial Medal, AAPG's highest honor, to Gerald Friedman -- who once again regaled listeners with a recap of his career as a geologist and educator, and of his proximity to Powers' gravesite.