Smiles were broad and plentiful in Houston in April, with good reason: The AAPG Annual Convention there ended as one of the largest, most successful meetings in association history.
Final attendance figures showed 8,223 people attended the event at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the highest figure since the 1985 New Orleans meeting (9,276).
It was the fifth largest meeting in AAPG history, behind only the meetings in 1981 (San Francisco), 1980 (Denver), 1985 and 1984 (San Antonio).
“Fantastic” is one word used to describe the meeting by general chair Charles Sternbach. Others included “innovative” and “inspiring.”
“We also set the record for raising the highest dollar amount of total sponsorship monies ($675,000),” Sternbach said. “We also had 207 exhibitors showing the latest technologies, and representatives from more than 80 countries attending.
“This annual meeting was one for the record books,” he said.
Sternbach praised the “exceptional papers, posters, short courses, field trips, sold-out luncheons, spectacular entertainment events, innovative professional programs and strong business-relevant forums” that helped represent the meeting’s theme of "Perfecting the Search and Delivering on Promises."
“We were able to incorporate Houston's many strengths and initiate business focus into our program by reaching out to the highest levels of corporate leadership,” Sternbach said.
Specifically, Sternbach pointed to the business forum "Energizing the World in the 21st Century," the “innovative” session on "Women as Leaders in the E&P Industry: Challenges and Opportunities" and the “exhilarating” core workshop and exhibit – featuring a dolomite sample of the pay zone from Saudi Arabia’s famed Ghawar Field – as three events that helped define the meeting’s overall excellence.
“Without doubt, I will always remember the thrill of holding and examing cores from the world's giant fields,” he said. “Someone said, ‘It smells like money!’”
The meeting began with Sunday’s opening session and awards ceremony, which featured a multi-media film montage that honored “the joy of discovery,” plus a talk by author/geophysicist Peter Tertzakian, the presentation of AAPG awards plus remarks from this year’s Sidney Powers medalist Robert Mitchum, and the presidential address from AAPG President Peter Rose.
Rose, in speaking on the meeting’s theme of “Perfecting the Search, Delivering on Promises,” set the scene for the next generation’s energy future.
“So-called ‘peak oil’ is not imminent, but may occur toward the middle or end of the next generation,” Rose said. “Even so, peak oil is not the key question. The larger issue is the shrinking of world productive capacity compared with growing world oil demand.”
Rose said that because oil use continues to grow, “it will be increasingly expensive. It is now time for the professional societies, especially in the United States, to publicly emphasize the immediate need for increasing energy efficiency and conservation, especially with regard to motor fuels. Americans accomplished such efficiencies once before, 25 years ago, and we can do it again – but we must get started now.”
He said the coming years for petroleum geoscience will be “global, challenging, exciting and rewarding.
“Our basic task, as geoscientists and engineers, is to bridge the global energy gap,” he said, “to find and develop the necessary oil and natural gas supplies to sustain living standards, buying time as the world navigates a tricky transition to an increasingly hydrogen-based economy.
“We should not expect that Western society will accept our warnings about energy supply and necessary conservation without suspicion and resentment,” he added. “Nor will they applaud our sustaining contributions to global welfare. We alone will recognize that our task is a skilled, necessary and heroic undertaking. But like Horatius, buying time at the bridge, I have no doubt that petroleum geoscientists will be fully equal to the challenge.