ACE 2016 Co-Chair & CSPG Director Jen Russel-Houston, Ph.D., P. Geol. Explains Why You Should Attend ACE

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Times are tough for geoscientists. If we are still employed we feel lucky and asking for time and money to attend a conference can be perceived as a risky proposition. With the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibit 2016 (ACE) coming to Calgary 19-22 June there is an opportunity to attend the largest gathering of petroleum geoscientists in the world with a great technical program at a low cost to your employer. Even in good times we need to be prepared with a clear message of how our attendance at a conference like ACE results in value for the shareholders of our companies. Geoscientists who work in the service industry attend conferences to meet their customers and keep up with their competitors. Geoscientists from exploration and production companies sometimes struggle to sell the value of attending conferences. Geoscientists add value by increasing production, maximizing profit (reducing costs) and developing creative business opportunities that will profit in the future. If you can relate your training to one or more of those three things, you make it easier for your boss to justify the expense. You need to do some homework and be prepared to have the discussion – here are some tips.

These days it is not so much about drilling new wells but optimizing the wells on production or adding incremental low-cost barrels. We need to be able to look at the old data and see something new. Conferences are great for learning new methods and understanding different perspectives. Review the technical program being offered at ACE and find those abstracts that might offer new insight into your reservoir or play. For example, could understanding thermal conductivity (Monday at 5:15, Theme 7) change your interpretation of the thermally altered zone in your 4-D seismic data and allow you to optimize the steam strategy in your SAGD development?
We cannot control the price of the commodity we sell, but we can reduce costs to increase our profit. The exhibit hall is packed with service companies who have solutions for reducing costs. You can see the latest innovations, learn best practices and find opportunities to address the economic and technical challenges affecting your company’s ability to make a profit. Plan your visit to the Exhibition Hall and locate your suppliers. Meet the business managers and negotiate prices, this may lead to better contract terms for your business.
The goal is not just to survive this economic downturn, but to be in a position to create new opportunities or to maximize value in the assets that are to be sold. Geoscientists are the optimists who point their companies in these new directions and conferences like ACE facilitate the ecosystem where the ideas germinate. The technical program is predominately composed of presentations and posters that will help us optimize value creation for when the rigs return. What can be learned from how Shell de-risks the Duvernay (Monday at 2:30, Discovery Thinking)? How does their approach differ from the researchers at University of Alberta (Monday 8:25, Theme 6) and what is the reservoir impact of the middle carbonate (Monday poster, Theme 6)? Find an opportunity that can potentially increase the value of your business and plan to dive deep into the discussion with the goal of building a better understanding of how your company might profit by participation. Even better, have the deep thinking stimulate a new idea and a new opportunity. Conferences provide opportunities to collaborate with colleagues and competitors. Perhaps the best plan is not to compete, but to partner. You never know what partnership might be born from a casual conversation beside a poster or over a coffee between sessions.

All the examples above are from Monday at ACE – day one. There is another two full days of a rich technical program plus an International Core Conference, Field Trips and Short Courses. This is a full week of stimulating content with inspiring people that will spark the ideas you need to bring value to your shareholders. Attendance at conferences like ACE is not a luxury; your company needs you to be there for solid business reasons. Your shareholders don’t want to just survive the downturn; they want to thrive and your participation at ACE would help that happen.

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