On the Cusp of Beginning a New Era

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

“Beginning” is one of the most important words in our vocabulary. Great philosophers and thinkers have expounded on “beginning.”

Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Horace said, “Once begun, a task is easy.” (I’m not sure I agree with that one!)

Cicero said. “Before beginning, prepare carefully!”

Longfellow said, “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

Even though I have worked for AAPG for 11 years I feel like AAPG is at the edge of a “beginning.” This theme was established by President Dave Rensink when he asked the leadership to consider this year as a new beginning and contemplate the future for the Association.

To that end the Advisory Council is in the process of reviewing the AAPG Strategic Plan.

At the AAPG Leadership Days in August, the major theme was, “What would AAPG look like in 2035?”

The demographics of AAPG would be significantly different. Most likely AAPG will have more members living outside of North America than within. Many of the baby boomers will be retired and the current students and young professionals will be in leadership positions in their companies and professional associations.

In 2035 there will be tremendous advances in science and technology compared to the present. New resource plays will be developed and new technology will allow the re-development of old fields.

Communications will change significantly. Watches, cell phones and laptops will be obsolete, and we will disseminate scientific information in ways we’ve never dreamed.

In September I attended the International Conference and Exhibition in Calgary, Canada. The overarching theme of the meeting was forward looking at unconventional reservoirs and unconventional thinking.

One of my favorite sessions was the management forum titled “E&P Challenges in Complex Environments: From the Arctic to Deep Water.” It featured keynote speaker Amin Nasser, senior vice president-E&P for Saudi Aramco. The session co-chairs were Pinar Yilmaz, of ExxonMobil, and Sa’id A. Al-Hajri, of Saudi Aramco.

The panel in this session comprised:

  • Jose Luiz Roque, E&P executive manager drilling, Petrobras.
  • David Lawrence, executive vice president-exploration and commercial, Shell.
  • Robert “Bobby” Ryan, vice president of global exploration, Chevron.
  • Tony Doré, global exploration vice president-North America, Statoil.
  • Rod Nelson, vice president-Communications, Schlumberger.

They discussed the challenges and opportunities of future projects and how the industry will face increasing technical difficulties and financial risks. Many of the plays have been known to the industry for some time, but commodity prices were too low for exploration and development.

Of course, unconventional reservoirs were an important part of this discussion. Oil and gas shales around the world are now in play, and although we now have the technology for development there are still many obstacles, such as land issues and political policies.

One of the most interesting “new beginnings” discussed was Arctic exploration. This new frontier presents unique challenges and tremendous opportunities. We are now at the threshold of development of this vast area as blocks have been taken and exploratory wells planned for the near future.

AAPG is very involved in the science of the Arctic with its Polar Petroleum Potential conference scheduled for Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, late next summver. AAPG also operates the Arctic Technology Conference for the Offshore Technology Conference, to be held Feb. 7-9 in Houston.

One of my favorite quotes on “beginning” is from Thomas Edison, the great applied scientist and inventor, who once said, “I start where the last man left off.”

It is an understatement to say that there will be a lot of changes in our industry and profession in the next 25 years. AAPG is now at a critical stage of its development, and it is important to take steps to prepare for the changes observed by the Association and industry leadership.

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Director's Corner

Director's Corner - Rick Fritz
Richard D. “Rick” Fritz, an AAPG member since 1984 and a member of the Division of Environmental Geosciences and the Division of Professional Affairs, served as AAPG Executive Director from 1999 to 2011.

The Director's Corner covers Association news and industry events from the worldview perspective of the AAPG Executive Director.

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