How do you improve on a good thing?
If it’s the AAPG Discovery Thinking forum, an event that has grown in popularity since its inception in 2008, organizers have a simple answer:
You try to make it twice as good.
So now, for only the second time in the event’s history, the Discovery Thinking forum set for this year’s Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston will have not one, but two sessions – an enhancement designed to accommodate a growing number of must-be-told stories about major discoveries around the globe as well as the ideas, technology and guts that made them happen.
“Explorers like to tell stories around the campfire, and the stories they like to tell are about discoveries,” said AAPG Honorary member Charles A. Sternbach, president of Star Creek Energy Company and founder and co-chair of the Discovery Thinking forum. “The whole purpose of Discovery Thinking is to discuss promising new plays and major new discoveries by people who know those discoveries well.
“We are fortunate that they share their insights on how the discovery was created,” he added.
This year’s forums will be held Monday, April 7, as eight geoscientists discuss new reserves, unconventional resources, payoffs from persistence and the application of highly specialized technology. (See accompanying story for a complete list of presentations.)
Many will use visual and technical data to give “tours” of their processes, Sternbach said. They will reveal the problems and challenges they faced, failures they experienced along the way and the path that led them to success.
“We get the privilege to look at major new trends and discoveries in seismic maps and vertical displays. It helps us understand how technology is applied and integrated as well as the business aspect of things,” Sternbach said.
“It’s a holistic view of new discoveries.”
Knowledge – and Encouragement
Discovery Thinking was launched to advance the AAPG’s 100th anniversary in 2017. Co-sponsored by the AAPG and the Division of Professional Affairs, the forum addresses both the scientific and professional aspects of exploration.
As it continues to grow in popularity, its life may extend beyond the centennial year and become a traditional component of the ACE and International Conference and Exhibition.
“The program leaves a legacy of discovery and has the continuity and momentum to continue,” Sternbach added.
Already, it is serving as a resource for thousands of geologists who visit the 40-plus presentations from previous forums, which are posted on the AAPG website (“Publications” tab, “Search and Discovery” button, or www.searchanddiscovery.com/specialcollections/discoverythinking.html).
The site has received more than 20,000 hits, proving that “the talks are not over when the forum is over,” Sternbach said.
The presentations also serve as educational tools for young petroleum geologists.
“AAPG and DPA want to encourage young professionals entering the business to become both successful explorers and the next generation of leaders,” he said. “These forums can accelerate the learning process.”
Paul Weimer, co-chair of this year’s Discovery Thinking forum, a professor and director of the Energy and Minerals Applied Research Center at the University of Colorado, and a former AAPG president, said many look forward to the talks every year.
“Exploration is very much a process that is done by analog, so geologists are always looking at other basins to generate ideas for their basins,” he said.
Ed Dolly, who with Weimer is co-chair of AAPG’s 100th Anniversary Committee, will co-chair the afternoon session about discoveries specific to the Gulf of Mexico.
As the forum has gained momentum over the years, Sternbach said lightheartedly that it prompted him to make “new friends” in the industry.
“It’s not easy for someone who’s just made a giant discovery to come and tell you about it until you have a good relationship,” he said. “We’ve continued to expand our speakers. It’s really been a joy for me. I can’t wait myself to learn and be inspired by these great discoveries. These programs owe a great debt to the wonderful men and women among us who share their discovery stories so that we all may aspire to be better explorers.”