I am writing to you from high above the Caribbean, on my way home from Cartagena, Colombia, site of the 2013 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition.
That historical city provided a beautiful backdrop to a conference that several attendees remarked was “buzzing” with energy. And they were right:
♦ A robust technical program drew attendees from around the globe to learn from each other.
♦ There was a large contingent of students whose enthusiasm was infectious.
♦ Our exhibitors showcased new data, technologies and an International Pavilion with countries offering investment opportunities.
Victor Vega, the conference general chair, and his organizing committee have been working tirelessly over the past several years to make ICE 2013 in Cartagena a reality. And as AAPG members we owe them a debt of gratitude for their dedication and hard work.
Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos (ANH), the Colombian hydrocarbon agency, Ecopetrol and Pacific Rubiales were our principal sponsors for ICE. They led a group of companies whose support for the conference was essential. Thanks to each of you for making ICE 2013 possible.
I also want to thank the AAPG staff for their efforts to make this meeting a success, especially Alan Wegener and the convention team. These folks have been running hard this summer with ACE in Pittsburgh in May, the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in Denver in August and ICE in September.
Their dedication and professionalism contributed significantly to the success of all three of these events.
The technical program at ICE had a special session devoted to the topic of hydraulic fracturing, and particularly how to address the public and regulatory concerns.
Tom Temples, past president of the Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG), and Michael Young, associate director for environmental systems at the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, gave a joint presentation on the fact and fiction around hydraulic fracturing. They talked about the technology, the use of water resources, and concluded with best practices and suggestions for how best to engage regulators and the public.
It’s an important discussion, because while the technology of hydraulic fracturing has been used for decades, the growth of unconventional resource development has brought it fully into the public’s consciousness – but the public doesn’t really understand what it is, and frequently believes that everything associated with oil and gas operations is “hydraulic fracturing.”
Tom and Mike emphasized the importance of engaging directly with policymakers, regulators and the communities where you’re working. Through direct and honest conversation you begin to build the trust necessary to operate successfully, both in good times and bad.
And DEG President Doug Wyatt observed, in response to another attendee’s question, that you have to speak to the public in language and using information that they can understand and that is meaningful to them.
AAPG is very interested in facilitating these types of conversations and working to ensure that decision-makers and the public have information about oil and gas operations that they can use to make good choices. That’s why we created our Geoscience & Energy Office in Washington, D.C. (GEO-DC), back in 2005.
Edith Allison, director of GEO-DC, led a group of AAPG members in mid-September as they visited with legislators and staff in Washington, D.C., talking about a host of geoscience issues – including hydraulic fracturing – during the annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Days.
But it’s important that AAPG expand the scope of these outreach activities and work cooperatively to bring science and expertise to policymakers and the public across the globe. And in Cartagena there were several such discussions:
♦ The first was a meeting of AAPG leaders, including members of the Executive Committee, Region leaders and DEG leaders, to discuss ways in which the Regions and Divisions could better cooperate. And one issue they decided to focus on was hydraulic fracturing.
♦ This was followed by a second meeting of Latin America Region leaders, leaders from various affiliated societies in the Region and DEG leaders about the topics of concern from the perspective of policy, regulation and public acceptance.
What was remarkable were the similarities of the issues that our members are facing across the Region – and many of them are related to the environment.
Fostering this dialogue among associations, across Regions, across the many facets of oil and gas activities is one way that AAPG is seeking to bring good science to policy makers and the public.
There is no shortage of opportunities and needs to do so – and AAPG is pushing to meet that need.