GTW Singapore 2012 Report from The Convenor

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

The AAPG Geoscience Technology Workshop on "Unconventional Hydrocarbon Plays in Asia" was held in Singapore from 15-16 March, 2012. 89 attendees from 49 companies throughout Asia-Pacific and beyond gathered for two days of presentations and discussion on geological and geotechnical aspects of shale and gas plays. Content was provided by operators, service companies and research organizations currently active in this domain throughout Asia and in the more advanced analogue plays of Australia and USA. These experts covered geological play parameters, geological engineering, workstation analysis, play and prospect maturation and reserves estimation for a wide range of prospective source rocks, oil and gas, shale and coal, and even provided contrasting perspectives of oil sand and hydrates.

The event began with the keynote, "Geologic Characterization of Potential Unconventional Oil and Gas Reservoirs" delivered by Chris Schenk of the US Geological Survey. The presentation put everyone in step with a common lexicon and global perspective, drawing on the collaborative work done on unconventional plays throughout the world by the USGS.The sessions progressed from US and Australian analogues and play criteria, to China, Pakistan and Indonesia, and finally ‘beyond’ – with an overview of the academic investments so far in Asia’s gas hydrates.

Key to the AAPG workshop approach is the breakout sessions. Most of the attendees were able to participate, forming five very dynamic teams to further explore their unanswered questions and to make the connections required to take their Asian prospects to the next stage. Many key issues were raised and circulated in these fora that captured how geological concerns are material to many other aspects of unconventional hydrocarbons. These included limitations of conventional exploration/development PSC structure to support the learning curve; lack of regulation proscribing information sharing to accelerate the learning curve; partnering with service companies for longer term knowledge building; limited land access, infrastructure and drilling spreads in Asia outside of China; well costs and alternatives to coring; unreliable reserve estimation in the early days of Australia’s CBM; and ultimately, even with a great shale, does it contain recoverable gas?

Above all there was certainly a key message of caution, as Asian plays are only partially understood. Yet even as the industry’s honeymoon period comes to a close, lessons learned from economically sound analogues combined with direct geological experience accumulated in Asia provides much opportunity in the short term and potential production in the longer term. Following the event there was an immediate flurry of email between the participants from China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Canada, Switzerland, US, UK and Singapore. The GTW met its goal of providing a clear picture of the state of geoscience technology in this domain, and a network of experienced and new experts to accelerate the learning curve around the world.

Dylan Mair, Convenor
27 April 2012

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