It’s often acceptable, perhaps even fashionable, to decry the state of the industry in general and the world of petroleum geology specifically.
True, a plethora of challenges assaulted the industry in 2010, from the debacle in the Gulf of Mexico to price fluctuations to onshore environmental concerns that dogged one of the industry’s biggest and brightest hopes.
But look closer at the trends of the past year and some positive signs begin to emerge.
There were signs of success in Indonesia and on Australia’s Northwest Shelf; offshore Greenland continued to command the industry’s spotlight, as did the continuing interest in the Black and Caspian Seas; and EVERYONE in the world now seems to know that offshore Brazil is a story for the ages.
Or, to geologists, a story of the ages.
And AAPG continues to be a big part of the story.
This month we continue an editorial emphasis that started last year in the EXPLORER – an effort to report throughout the year on the success stories, the challenges and the ongoing trends from all six AAPG international Regions.
We do that through contract with a growing network of leaders and news sources, but this month we do it primarily through people who lead three of AAPG’s Regions.
After all, in addition to being important leaders for Association activities and structure, Region leaders by definition speak to members throughout their spheres of interest. And because of that, they’re also uniquely wired to the latest industry developments.
They know who is doing what, where.
This month we focus on the state of affairs in the Asia Pacific, Latin American and European Regions, with comments from:
♦Joseph J. Lambiase, finishing his second term as the Asia Pacific Region president. He is with Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.
♦Enrique Velasquez, serving the second of two years as Latin America Region president. He is with Ecopetrol, Bogota, Colombia.
♦David Cook, serving the second of two years as European Region president. Retired from ExxonMobil, he resides in Haslemere, England.
Similar reports from AAPG’s African, Canada and Middle East Regions are set for the May EXPLORER.
This month, all presidents were asked the same questions regarding exploration activities, challenges and goals for the coming year.
What’s hot in the Asia Pacific Region right now?
“Several things come to mind,” AAPG Asia Pacific Region President Joe Lambiase said, “including carbonate and clastic plays in eastern Indonesia and the Makassar Strait.”
Other areas of note include India’s KG delta and the “continued activity on the Northwest Shelf of Australia, with Carnarvon Basin gas plays.”
Indeed, North Carnarvon Basin discoveries dominated the list of “Australasia” success stories last year, according to data compiled by IHS International, placing eight of the region’s top 10 hits for 2010. Included in that list:
Both helping and inspiring that effort was the recent announcement that AAPG’s 2012 International Conference and Exhibition would be held in Singapore (see related story, page 34).
“The biggest challenge is to develop the regional infrastructure so that it is capable of providing enough high-quality services to all the Association’s members in the geographically large, culturally diverse Asia-Pacific region,” he said, “thereby allowing AAPG to grow and become recognized as the leading society for the petroleum geosciences.”
You don’t need to think hard to predict where the hot areas will be for Latin America in 2011.
“Brazil will be the hottest exploration area in the region, due to the huge discoveries in the Santos, Campos and Espiritu Santo basins,” said AAPG LA Region President Enrique Velasquez.
The Santos and Campos basins, in fact, were the locales for five of the world’s most notable discoveries in 2010, according to IHS.
But the region’s success stories won’t be limited to Brazil.
“Colombia will continue as a country with intense exploration activity,” Velasquez added, “and minor exploration activity will be conducted in Peru and Argentina.”
As Region president, Velasquez has clearly defined goals for the coming year.
“I’d like to increase the number of Student chapters, motivate members of the Region to become active, conduct an intensive Distinguished Lecturer activity and complete at least two GTWs (Geoscience Technology Workshops) in the Region,” he said.
“I’d also like to improve networking with (other) geological associations, to get them to affiliate with AAPG,” he said.
Velasquez proudly notes that last year was a big one for him and the Region – there was the creation of five new Student chapters, a GTW was held in Mexico and Bogota is now being considered as a candidate for a future ICE.
“Since 2010 was a very successful year for the LA Region, achieving better results in 2011 will be my main challenge.”
The coming year promises to be both exciting and challenging, according to Region President David Cook – some obvious, but some perhaps surprising.
“Much attention will be focused on offshore Greenland this year,” Cook said. “Last year a number of acreage awards were made in West Greenland, and several exploration wells were drilled and seismic data acquired.”
It is anticipated there will be a license round in East Greenland during 2012.
“There continues to be much exploration and appraisal activity on the UK and Norwegian continental shelves,” he said, including:
“In Eastern Europe there is a continuing interest in the Black and Caspian seas, and with exploration for unconventional resources in Germany, Poland and Romania,” Cook added. “Exploration and development activities continue at a high level in Russia, with much interest focused on the potential of the Arctic.”
As president of an AAPG Region, Cook sees some obvious goals to tackle in the coming year.
“The European Region has over 3,100 members, but only 36 percent of these are Active (AAPG) members, and the European Council aims to increase this proportion,” Cook said. “We are making every effort to expand both individual and corporate membership – particularly in Eastern Europe.
The foundation of the membership drive is through the creation of Student and Young Professional Chapters.
“Currently there are 30 active Student Chapters and two Young Professional Chapters in the Region,” he said, “and it is expected that these numbers will grow during 2011.
“The key to increasing membership amongst professional geoscientists is through broadcasting benefits, products and services,” Cook said.
Additionally, the Region plans to hold more educational events, GTWs and small subject-specific conferences.
“We are also identifying more European geoscientists to take part in an expanding Regional Lecturer and Visiting Geoscientist program,” he said.
But for every goal there seems to be an equal component of challenges.
“One of the major challenges we face is the proliferation of workshops and conferences by professional and commercial organizations and competition for particular topics, such as unconventional resources,” Cook noted.
“To mitigate this, the European Region is planning this year to hold a conference with the Geological Society of London on carbon dioxide storage from a geological perspective,” he said “and we will investigate other opportunities to hold joint events in the future.”
On the membership front, the Region’s biggest issues are retaining students as they graduate into the profession and encouraging Associates to become Active members.
“It is hoped that the creation of Young Professional Chapters will help with the former,” Cook said, “and encouraging greater involvement with the AAPG, the latter.”
The Region’s final challenge is in generating enough money to support the Regional Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) competition, to provide services to our Student and Young Professional Chapters and to ensure that the European Office is self-sufficient.
“This will be no mean feat, as we have unfortunately already had to turn away applications for the IBA because we do not have the funds to support the teams,” Cook said. “We will need to consider alternative ways of holding the regional competition in the future in order to accommodate more teams.
“We are making every effort to hold more events that will generate funds,” he said. “However, as I said, we are in competition with many other organizations.”
Joseph Lambiase, Asia Pacific Region President
Enrique Velasquez, Latin America Region President
David Cook, European Region President