Unexpectedly large crowd attends

Conference Shines Light on Angola

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
The new Talatona Conference Centre was a great place to gather.
The new Talatona Conference Centre was a great place to gather.

The recent AAPG-endorsed Regional Deepwater Offshore West Africa Exploration and Production Conference and Exhibition (DOWAC), a follow-up to the first such conference held in Abuja, Nigeria, in November 2004, boasted an attendance that surpassed all expectations.

“We expected about 300 attendees, but by the time the opening day ceremonies were held well over 1,000 attendees were present,” said EnergyWise managing director Gerard Kreeft, who organized DOWAC at the new Talatona Conference Centre.

The conference theme was “Learning From the Challenges of West Africa Deepwater,” and attendees shared the feeling of optimism and exuberance that pervades the Angola oil industry as discoveries continue to be made – especially in the deep water – and the country’s oil production continues to increase.

Angola’s production in the past decade has risen from 700,000 barrels of oil per day to the current level of almost two million barrels per day.

Beyond the oil industry, the conference atmosphere also reflected Angola’s economic recovery after the 30 years of civil war that ended just five years ago. Angola is going through a post-war economic boom that has resulted in it being one of Africa’s top economic performers. The oil industry clearly has been the driver behind this recovery, which has led to a dramatic expansion of the construction industry. Continuous improvement of the roads and rehabilitation of the railroads is providing better access to the interior, which in turn allows for growth in agriculture and the mining industry. Tourism also will benefit from the improved access, since the interior of Angola can only be described as “magnificent.”

Participants and Activities

The participants included representatives from 25 countries. Africa was well represented with attendees from Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe and South Africa.

The unexpected high attendance figure was matched by an inundation of abstracts. The result was a technical program featuring three concurrent oral sessions and continuous poster sessions, offering about 100 oral presentations and 60 posters.

An innovative “Knowledge Centre,” set up in the exhibits area, provided a chance for five Angolan universities to showcase their geologic programs to companies attending the meeting. The display was sponsored by Angola Santa Fe, the ING Bank, Marathon Oil and Schlumberger, and all the universities received contributions from DOWAC in support of their programs.

Koning, leading a DOWAC field trip in Angola.
Koning, leading a DOWAC field trip in Angola.

A geological field trip also was part of DOWAC, as Sonangol’s Mario Brandao and this author led about 25 geoscientists and engineers on a one-day trip to the Caxito area north of Luanda – a geologically fascinating area due to the extensive oil seeps that are found near the outcrop edge of Precambrian basement.

The trip also provided the attendees with the opportunity to study some of the sedimentary formations that are productive in Angola’s offshore area.

The Angola DOWAC was sponsored by many of the leading players in the Angola offshore region including Sonangol, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Total.

In addition to AAPG, DOWAC also received the endorsement of SPE and SEG.

Editor’s note: Canadian geologist Tako Koning, a 30-year AAPG member, has for 12 years resided and worked in Angola, where he is a consultant for Tullow Oil. He provides this report on the recent Deepwater Offshore West Africa Exploration and Production Conference and Exhibition, held in Luanda.

A report on Koning’s humanitarian involvement with Angola’s water well initiative will be included in the February EXPLORER.

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