From the DEG President, 2014-15

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

DEG enjoyed a full and productive year in 2014-15, thanks to heightened interest in environmental topics affecting the energy industry and a collection of talented volunteers who have worked tirelessly on behalf of DEG.

The continued relevance and importance of environmental issues in general and DEG in particular have been highlighted in quarterly AAPG Explorer columns that included:

  1. moving our industry from one that largely reacts to unintended consequences (real or perceived) to one that better anticipates issues (September issue)
  2. maintaining the social license to operate (December issue)
  3. encouraging open discourse on environmental topics in formal and informal publication venues (March issue)
  4. encouraging DEG’s role in filling the time gap between the daily news cycle (when hot "environmental" topics are long on interest, short on reliable information, and public opinion is formed) and the prolonged period necessary for in-depth analyses to be completed, reviewed, and disseminated to the general public.

To make progress on these fronts, it is imperative that organizations like DEG preserve scientific neutrality, avoid advocacy, and make our collective knowledge more accessible to the public.

Some of the more significant events and accomplishments during 2014-2015 related to these themes include:

  • Doug Wyatt led a team that produced a white paper on hydraulic fracturing, a subject in need of timely, dispassionate, and accurate information in the space between the daily news cycle and the peer-reviewed literature. The paper is currently in final revision at AAPG.
  • Doug Peters led development of a robust environmental program at the 2015 Annual Convention in Denver that included 18 talks and 16 posters on carbon sequestration and EOR, induced seismicity, hydraulic fracturing, water management, geologic hazards, and forensic geology, a joint DEG-sponsored field trip, and a DEG Luncheon featuring Larry Wickstrom speaking on the roles of science and politics in energy-environment issues such as brine injection, hydraulic fracturing, and induced seismicity.
  • John Hughes helped organized the environmental aspects of the International Convention being held in Melbourne this fall. This conference features one of the strongest environmental programs in ICE history, with 27 talks and 18 posters distributed among themes on the social license to operate, carbon sequestration, and the environmental regulatory framework.
  • Bruce Smith and Mike Jacobs helped organize special DEG-sponsored sessions at the 28th Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems held in Austin, Texas in March 2015. These sessions featured 12 papers on geophysics applied to a wide variety of environmental issues facing the energy industry, including induced seismicity, hydraulic fracturing, salinization, and water supply.
  • A successful transition from one outstanding editor (Kristin Carter) to her successor (Michele Cooney), who continue to build our Environmental Geosciences journal toward ISI listing and an enhanced footprint in the peer-reviewed literature. 
Future DEG initiatives of note include:
  • A workshop, forum, or short course on environmental aspects of oil sands to be held in conjunction with ACE 2016 in Calgary and being jointly sponsored by EMD, DEG, and the SEG Near Surface group. Laurie Whitesell (Chair of DEG's Environmental Geophysics Committee) is helping organize this on behalf of DEG.
  • An Environmental Forum to be held in Europe and being jointly sponsored by DEG and several European societies and organizations. Dirk Nieuwland (current DEG Vice President and future Advisory Board member) is leading this effort for DEG.
  • Encouraging closer ties between DEG leadership and Section leadership and organizers of ACE, ICE, and sectional meetings to ensure development of strong and diverse environmental content and activities that can feed material into the DEG journal, website, and newsletter and help minimize the information gap highlighted above.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of many who helped make this a productive and satisfying year. Those individuals include President Elect Jeff Aldrich, Secretary/Treasurer Steve Tischer, Vice President Dirk Nieuwland, Environmental Geosciences Editor Michele Cooney, Spheres of Influence Editor Kris Carter, and Past President Doug Wyatt. Laurie Whitesell, Doug Peters, Charlotte Sullivan, and Gene Murray served as DEG Committee Chairs, and Tim Murin, Allen Waggoner, Quin Baber, Anne Fix, Mary Harris, Mike Jacobs, and Chris Liebli served as DEG Advisory Board members. As always, Norma Briggs ably supported the entire team and kept everything running smoothly as the AAPG Division Manager. The above are but a few examples of acts worthy of acknowledgment. We couldn't have done much this year without contributions from all!

Respectfully Submitted,

Jeffrey G. Paine
DEG President, 2014-2015

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