Pittsburgh Provided a Unique ACE Location

A new location that sat square in the heart of an active and internationally significant play brought a fresh and exciting feel to this year’s AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Pittsburgh.

About 5,000 people attended the meeting, which for the first time ever was held in Pittsburgh, and not surprisingly, much of the technical program and several of the activities were defined by the city’s proximity to the celebrated Marcellus Shale play.

And yet the ACE organizers also made sure that the meeting also offered a comprehensive scope that made it both attractive and valuable to an international audience as well.

“The technical sessions had appeal to both a domestic and an international attendee,” said ACE general chair Michael Canich – one of the factors that he said made the meeting a success.

Certainly, several of the “standing room only” sessions – including the Discovery Thinking Forum – featured talks that shared the science and successful exploration experiences from areas around the world.

But in a perfect blend of local versus global, organizers definitely took advantage of the world’s growing interest in shale plays.

“The Halbouty Lecture (Jeff Ventura, president and CEO of Marcellus pioneer Range Resources) and All-Convention luncheon (James Palm, CEO of Gulfport Energy) speakers covered the two major, currently active shale plays in the eastern United States,” Canich said. “Both of these speakers provided details of their company’s approaches to their respective plays that can be applied by domestic and international companies pursuing shale plays.

“Shale outcrops of these formations were within driving distance of Pittsburgh, and there were field trips to these sites,” Canich added.

“I think the opportunity to take field trips to outcrops and formations currently being drilled within miles of the convention center was a great opportunity,” added ACE general vice chair Dan Billman, “and one you often don’t have in (other) locations.

“Having a meeting in an area of significant and recent unconventional activity was a great aspect of the meeting,” he said. “Having rigs running in the area, and incorporating that into a field trip, was a great opportunity.”

The meeting officially started with a fast-paced, colorful opening session that featured a greeting from Canich that offered an entertaining look at the region’s historical roots – going back to the 19th century Drake well – and recent developments that have given the region “a second bite of the oil and gas apple.”

AAPG President Ted Beaumont’s address next explored the potential AAPG and its members have in making an impact in the world – often through anticipation of and responding effectively to “black swan events,” which he described as being surprising, “highly improbable” occurrences.

While we don’t know what challenges are going to occur, Beaumont said, we can effectively respond if we stay open to new possibilities. He cited legendary geologist’s Parke Dickey’s advice:

“We usually find oil in a new place with old ideas. Sometimes we find oil in an old place with a new idea; but we seldom find much oil in an oil place with an old idea. Several times in the past we have thought that we were running out of oil, when actually we were running out of ideas.”

Also during the opening ceremony was the honoring of AAPG’s top award winners for the year, led by Sidney Powers medalist Dietrich H. Welte and Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award winner Stephen A. Sonnenberg.

Daily video recaps of the meeting featuring AAPG Executive Director David Curtiss remain available on the AAPG website, and online videos showing various talks and activities of the meeting will be made available in the coming weeks, at www.aapg.org.

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