This will be my last column in the EXPLORER as president for DEG. In June I will turn over the reins to Doug Wyatt, and I wish him well.
Some of the things DEG accomplished this year included:
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to travel to Washington, D.C., with several other AAPG members for Congressional Visits Day. There we had the opportunity to meet with several federal agencies that have a role in our industry and also to meet with numerous congressmen and senators.
Our purpose was to introduce AAPG and its members to the Congress as a source of information on issues that they may be debating.
One of the hottest topics was – yep, you guessed it – hydraulic fracturing.
It would appear – by my unscientific poll of articles appearing in the media – that some of the furor has died down on hydraulic fracturing. Still, there are a lot of misconceptions in Washington about how we do our business, and this topic is one of the least understood.
I was pleasantly surprised, though, at the level of understanding that several of the congressmen had about hydraulic fracturing, and the willingness of the opposition to sit down and have a meaningful discussion on the topic.
We have a great opportunity to get unbiased information into the hands of our legislators. Please work with Edith Allison, our GEO-DC director.
I encourage all of you to get in touch with your congressional delegation, introduce yourself and offer to be of help. We can make a significant impact on legislation that affects our industry.
♦ One topic that came up in Washington was centered on fugitive methane emissions. This seems to be one of the topics that opponents to production from resource plays are taking to stop future drilling.
EPA just released a report in which it reduced its estimate of methane volumes escaping from drilling activity in the Haynesville Shale play by 20 percent.
♦ Another discussion topic was the impacts of induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing activities.
The National Academy of Sciences recently released a report on induced seismicity(http://dels.nas.edu/report/induced-seismicity-potential-energy-technologies/13355). Their conclusion was that “a very small fraction of injection and extraction activities among hundreds of thousands of energy development sites in the United States have induced seismicity at levels noticeable to the public.”
♦ The last topic of discussion focused on creating jobs and the role that the oil industry can and does play in job creation.
A recent report by the American Petroleum Institute stated unconventional oil and gas industry has created 1.7 million jobs in 2012 – and that will grow to 3.5 million by the year 2035. That’s a significant number of new jobs the country needs.
The problem, however, is our university system is not producing enough qualified students to meet this demand. In a report by the National Academy of Sciences, the projected shortfall between projected workforce and new graduates is significant.
I have spent time talking with numerous students in schools not traditionally associated with the oil industry. Many of them are not considering a job in the petroleum industry because of our perceived negative attitude to the environment.
We as a profession need to provide the right information to these students so that they can make an informed decision based on factual information and not on what they see in the news media.
I encourage you to go visit your local schools – be it elementary, middle or high school – and give the facts about our industry and our record on environmental issues. Visit your alma mater and talk to the geology students about your career in the industry.
I also encourage all of you to become DEG members, if for no other reason than to demonstrate your commitment to doing your job in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
One of the things that David Curtiss said in several of our meetings with Congress was “nobody went into geology to destroy the earth” – on the contrary, most geologists have a deep appreciation of the earth and make every attempt possible to leave it in the manner we found it.
The Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG), a division of AAPG, is concerned with increasing awareness of the environment and the petroleum industry and providing AAPG with a scientific voice in the public arena. Among its objectives are educating members about important environmental issues, supporting and encouraging research on the effects of exploration and production on the environment, and communicating scientific information to concerned governmental agencies.