EMD Will Have a High Profile in Pittsburgh

In my 15 years as an AAPG member, I’ve actively been involved in planning and serving in various roles during AAPG’s Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE), particularly when I lived in Houston.

“Space City” is on the regular rotation for the ACE, most recently hosting the meeting in 2002, 2006 and 2011 (and again next April). Other petroleum industry-friendly cities such as Denver, San Antonio, Calgary, New Orleans and Dallas also attract a fair share of AAPG ACE events.

The 2013 ACE, however, is being held in a new location, planned in the “City of Bridges” and situated a stone’s throw from Titusville, home of the 1859 Drake discovery well and the birthplace of the U.S. oil industry.

Few likely had the foresight that Pittsburgh would someday host an ACE, and I certainly did not envision a relocation back to my northeastern U.S. roots while working for a major energy company!

However, in these times of rampant resurgence in onshore plays, one should perhaps expect the unexpected. I am proud to say Pittsburgh has been my adopted home for the past two years, and the Eastern Section will be hosting its first ACE in nearly 30 years.

In the years since Range Resources’ Renz #1 discovery well in the Marcellus Shale, Pittsburgh has emerged as the “it” city as more operators develop their position in the Appalachian Basin and new plays such as the Utica/Point Pleasant have matured.

Like Pittsburgh, EMD is experiencing a wave of renewed excitement as advancing technologies unlock previously economically challenged plays, and new opportunities within EMD disciplines are becoming more attractive and feasible.

EMD is truly excited about the upcoming ACE, and we invite you to join us for our jam-packed technical program and events during the meeting. Doug Patchen, the EMD vice chair for the 2013 ACE, organized an outstanding program for EMD.

That program includes:

Seven oral sessions (Theme 1). The topics are:

  • Lower Paleozoic Unconventional Plays of the Northeast U.S.
  • Shale Plays of the Americas (Non-U.S.)
  • The Bakken Petroleum System.
  • The Eagle Ford Petroleum System.
  • Evaluation of European Shales.
  • Worldwide Unconventional Reservoirs.
  • Shale and Tight Oil Plays from Around the Globe.

Four poster sessions (Theme 1):

  • Resource Plays (I and II).
  • Unconventionals (I and II).

Three field trips:

  • The Marcellus Shale in south-central Pennsylvania (led by Lee Avary and John Dennison).
  • Organic-Rich Shales of New York – Core Workshop and Field Trip (Taury Smith and Jim Leone).
  • Coal Measures of Kentucky (Steve Flint).

Two short courses:

  • Black Shale Core Workshop (CoreLab).
  • Hydraulic Fracturing of Shale Reservoirs (Randy LaFollette).

Finally, this year’s EMD Luncheon, set Wednesday, May 22, features Seamus McGraw, author of End of Country, who will discuss “Comfortable in Our Ignorance,” which will explain how extreme voices on both sides of the public debate over shale gas exploration and development are effectively undermining efforts to develop the resource more safely, damaging efforts to maximize its potential environmental advantages, and preventing the real economic benefits from taking hold.

At press time, seats were still available – but this luncheon is expected to sell out, so get your tickets while they last!

For more details on McGraw, read his interview , or visit his website.


On behalf of EMD I was able to be part of this year’s AAPG Congressional Visit Days, held in mid-April and organized by Edith Allison, director of the AAPG GEO-DC office in Washington, D.C.

Over the course of three days, the AAPG delegation received briefings about current legislative and regulatory events and had the opportunity to meet with policy makers and their staff in Congress and federal agencies.

GEO-DC is co-sponsor of the Energy Policy Forum that will be held during ACE at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 21. It’s open to all meeting attendees.

This will be my last quarterly column in the EXPLORER as EMD president and I would like to thank the members of the EMD Executive Committee for their time, talent and willingness to serve this year: President-Elect Jeremy Boak, Vice President Bob Trevail, Treasurer David Tabet, Secretary Bruce Handley, immediate Past-President Stephen Testa, and also Norma Newby, AAPG headquarters division manager. It truly was an honor and privilege to serve EMD alongside this team.

I also would like to acknowledge the EMD committee chairs and councilors for their contributions to EMD during my term. Please join me in thanking these technical ambassadors who are willing to contribute to EMD, some who have been involved since EMD’s beginning in 1977.

I look forward to visiting with all EMD members – and potential members – in Pittsburgh this month.

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Division Column-EMD Andrea Reynolds

Andrea A. Reynolds, P.G. EMD President 2012-13.

Division Column-EMD

The Energy Minerals Division (EMD), a division of AAPG, is dedicated to addressing the special concerns of energy resource geologists working with energy resources other than conventional oil and gas, providing a vehicle to keep abreast of the latest developments in the geosciences and associated technology. EMD works in concert with the Division of Environmental Geosciences to serve energy resource and environmental geologists.

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The Molasse Basin represents the northern foreland basin of the Alps. After decades of exploration, it is considered to be mature in terms of hydrocarbon exploration. However, geological evolution and hydrocarbon potential of its imbricated southernmost part (Molasse fold and thrust belt) are still poorly understood. In this study, structural and petroleum systems models are integrated to explore the hydrocarbon potential of the Perwang imbricates in the western part of the Austrian Molasse Basin.

The structural model shows that total tectonic shortening in the modeled north–south section is at least 32.3 km (20.1 mi) and provides a realistic input for the petroleum systems model. Formation temperatures show present-day heat flows decreasing toward the south from 60 to 41 mW/m2. Maturity data indicate very low paleoheat flows decreasing southward from 43 to 28 mW/m2. The higher present-day heat flow probably indicates an increase in heat flow during the Pliocene and Pleistocene.

Apart from oil generated below the imbricated zone and captured in autochthonous Molasse rocks in the foreland area, oil stains in the Perwang imbricates and oil-source rock correlations argue for a second migration system based on hydrocarbon generation inside the imbricates. This assumption is supported by the models presented in this study. However, the model-derived low transformation ratios (lt20%) indicate a charge risk. In addition, the success for future exploration strongly depends on the existence of migration conduits along the thrust planes during charge and on potential traps retaining their integrity during recent basin uplift.

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Earth modeling, from the construction of subsurface structure and stratigraphy, to the accurate understanding of rock physics, through the simulation of seismic and nonseismic responses, is an enabling technology to guide decisions in acquisition, processing, imaging, inversion and reservoir property inference, for both static and time-lapse understanding. So it is crucial to capture those earth elements that most influence the geophysical phenomena we seek to study. This is notoriously difficult, probably because we regularly underestimate how clever the earth can be in producing various geophysical phenomena.

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The results of regional deep seismic acquisition in the South Atlantic continental margins have shed new lights on the birth and development of sedimentary basins formed during the Gondwana breakup. Recent models of mantle exhumation as observed in the deep water Iberian margin have been applied extensively to the interpretation of several basins in the Eastern Brazilian and West African conjugate margins. However, the tectonic development of these basins is markedly different from the magma-poor margins, and in this lecture we emphasize the contrasts from the tectono-sedimentary features imaged in deep-penetrating seismic profiles that extend from the platform towards the oceanic crust, which indicate that the Red Sea constitutes a better analogue for the birth of divergent continental margins.

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This course is oriented towards the recognition and characterization of uncertainty in unconventional reservoirs. Starting with resource/reservoir assessment methods, it moves through the full unconventional value-chain. This two-day exercise and example filled workshop provides participants with the techniques and reasoning needed to validly assess the merits of the search for, and development of, unconventional resource plays.
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