APPEX Global Update

A Vision Beyond The Domestic

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

The AAPG has hosted conferences worldwide for many years, but one of its most successful over the last ten years, APPEX, the AAPG Prospect and Property Expo in London, UK, is possibly one many in North America will never have considered attending. So why should they and does it matter?

Until the downturn of the late 1980s, US companies explored around the globe with a pioneering spirit, discovering and developing major oil provinces worldwide.  Since then attention has turned to focus upon the home grown unconventional resources, the growth and exploitation of which has been a remarkable technical and logistical achievement in a relatively short time span. The maturing and crowding of this marketplace can be seen by the high prices now paid for acreage in the main shale plays and the consolidation by the major players, yet the very success of the domestic industry has led to abundant supply and a distinctly lower gas price in the US than in other world markets. So what now for those who are looking for the next frontier and to stay one step ahead of the competition?

Look to almost any international frontier province and there will invariably be Australian, Canadian and European explorers, adventurous in outlook and going where large acreages with elbow room can propel a company higher by orders of magnitude. That is not to say US companies are not active internationally. On the contrary, US oil and gas companies of all sizes are continuing to be very successful internationally and a cursory glance around just the coastline of Africa, for example, ably demonstrates this. Off Ghana, the game-making Jubilee oil discovery by Kosmos has drawn the rest of the world into the prolific offshore West African Cretaceous play. Further south, off Gabon, the success by Harvest Natural Resources oil discovery, in a relatively ignored Atlantic pre-salt play, north of the largest sub-Saharan oil production in Angola shows that diligent application of modern seismic imaging can succeed in the face of scepticism. Across the continent, Anadarko’s multiple East African gas discoveries have helped to trigger the surge in interest in the underexplored Tanzanian and Mozambiquan offshore and onshore basins. However, the quality of explorer is not matched by quantity, with proportionally fewer numbers venturing overseas than might be expected from the numerically large US share of the world oil and gas companies.

Following the industry demographic trend, the pool of experienced international explorers in the US is diminishing. The corporations from years gone by who pioneered exploration in the Middle East, Central Europe, North Africa and South America are now settled with a domestic portfolio, or submerged within corporate mergers and takeovers. Retirement or domestic unconventionals now occupy the intrepid individuals who led the original charges to fresh pastures.  Is now the time to utilise this hard-earned expertise, combined with the recent advances in both conventional and unconventional technology, to look further afield to the less crowded regions of the world?

In many parts of the world, even where conventional exploration is well established, the surface has barely been scratched of the vast unconventional potential. Australian unconventionals are well known, but who is looking in India, Central Asia or North Africa, to give but three possibilities? The ever-increasing energy demand, particularly in developing countries is encouraging the growth of infrastructure to service this need and proliferation of these local markets for gas and oil transport facilities means that there are now few countries where a significant discovery could not be comercialised.

Whether for conventional or unconventional resources, the entry into a new country can be daunting. The questions of where in the world to go, the basins and plays to target, dealing with regional politics, can overload the venturer with choices. The AAPG, through APPEX, aims to ease the process, bringing oil and gas company principals and senior staff together with NOCs, governments, and global E&P deal-makers, to showcase and discuss opportunities around the world. The variety of prospects on offer is further enhanced by integral International Pavilion, exhibiting a wide range of opportunities at the country level. For those who are ahead of the herd, to see what is available on the international stage and with unmatched networking for global upstream opportunities, APPEX is difficult to beat.

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