Director's Corner

Innovation, Collaboration Create New Value For AAPG

How can AAPG create and deliver value to its members, volunteers, customers, the oil and gas industry, and to society? After all, that’s why we exist as an organization.

But what is value, anyway?

Ultimately, it is a subjective assessment of “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth or usefulness of something.”

The perception of value is going to vary from person to person, but our job as an association seeking to be indispensable to the petroleum geologist is to innovate and try new things, looking for those areas where the interest and response from our members, customers and other stakeholders demonstrate that we’re delivering value to a significant number of them.

Ultimately, the marketplace tells us whether we’re delivering value.

Evaluating AAPG’s activities in terms of value, then, yields a useful metric to determine where to place emphasis and efforts. The Association should allocate its resources – both financial and human – to deliver maximum value and impact to achieve its mission.


One emphasis that AAPG has had in recent years is multi-disciplinary integration.

As geologists we do this naturally, integrating disciplines such as tectonics and structure, sedimentology and stratigraphy, geophysics, geochemistry and engineering – the list goes on and on – in our search for oil and natural gas. But as discipline-specific silos have broken down within exploration and production companies, the need to cross-train “interpreters” provides AAPG with a significant opportunity to deliver value to oil and gas professionals.

AAPG has been intentional in pursuing these collaborations across several disciplines. The Geophysical Integration committee is one example. The new Petroleum Structure and Geomechanics Division is another.

And several years ago AAPG and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) established an ad hoc cooperation committee, chaired by past SEG president Bill Barkhouse and past AAPG president Lee Billingsley, to identify specific opportunities for two of the largest professional geoscience organizations to work together to create value.

That was the focus of the third AAPG-SEG leadership summit, held last month in Houston. This annual event gives a group of SEG Board members and AAPG Executive Committee members an opportunity to sit together and discuss ways to bridge the disciplines of geology and geophysics.

As our leaders engaged in these talks, they were building upon a successful foundation:

  • In late 2011, SEG joined AAPG and SPE in the creation of the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, successfully launched in August 2013, and designed specifically as a new multi-disciplinary research conference.
  • Since 2012 the AAPG and SEG Middle East offices in Dubai are co-located, enabling better coordination of our activities in the region.
  • Last year, SEG and AAPG jointly launched Interpretation, a new quarterly peer-reviewed journal focusing on subsurface interpretation. The third edition was delivered to subscribers last month, and is available both in electronic format and in print. Visit the AAPG website and search “Interpretation” for more information.

At the second leadership summit, held in February 2013, AAPG and SEG leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging cooperation.

This year’s discussion expanded on that theme, with the group discussing the opportunities to collaborate on joint meetings with the goals of:

  • Integrating multidisciplinary geoscience content.
  • Reinforcing the relevance of geosciences in exploration and production.
  • Delivering value to our members, customers and other stakeholders.

Getting two independent organizations with unique and established cultures to successfully work together, both at the leadership and staff levels, requires trust and coordination. So, it was gratifying that the week following the third leadership summit, both AAPG President Lee Krystinik and SEG President Don Steeples met again in Tulsa with the respective staff leaders to continue the conversation and demonstrate their engagement with this collaboration.

The current issue of EXPLORER focuses on seismic advances. As you read the articles you may have been inspired to seek more information about a particular geophysical topic, or realized that there’s a big question out there that remains unanswered.

Those are the kind of ideas we’re looking for, so please share them. It may be a perfect opportunity for AAPG and SEG to work together to deliver more value to you in your quest to find oil and gas.

Value. It’s the measurement of how well we’re serving you.

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Director's Corner

Director's Corner - David Curtiss

David Curtiss is an AAPG member and was named AAPG Executive Director in August 2011. He was previously Director of the AAPG GEO-DC Office in Washington D.C.

The Director's Corner covers Association news and industry events from the worldview perspective of the AAPG Executive Director.

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See Also: Book

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A series of short and steep unidirectionally migrating deep-water channels, which are typically without levees and migrate progressively northeastward, are identified in the Baiyun depression, Pearl River Mouth Basin. Using three-dimensional seismic and well data, the current study documents their morphology, internal architecture, and depositional history, and discusses the distribution and depositional controls on the bottom current–reworked sands within these channels.

Unidirectionally migrating deep-water channels consist of different channel-complex sets (CCSs) that are, overall, short and steep, and their northeastern walls are, overall, steeper than their southwestern counterparts. Within each CCS, bottom current–reworked sands in the lower part grade upward into muddy slumps and debris-flow deposits and, finally, into shale drapes.

Three stages of CCSs development are recognized: (1) the early lowstand incision stage, during which intense gravity and/or turbidity flows versus relatively weak along-slope bottom currents of the North Pacific intermediate water (NPIW-BCs) resulted in basal erosional bounding surfaces and limited bottom current–reworked sands; (2) the late lowstand lateral-migration and active-fill stage, with gradual CCS widening and progressively northeastward migration, characterized by reworking of gravity- and/or turbidity-flow deposits by vigorous NPIW-BCs and the CCSs being mainly filled by bottom current–reworked sands and limited slumps and debris-flow deposits; and (3) the transgression abandonment stage, characterized by the termination of the gravity and/or turbidity flows and the CCSs being widely draped by marine shales. These three stages repeated through time, leading to the generation of unidirectionally migrating deep-water channels.

The distribution of the bottom current–reworked sands varies both spatially and temporally. Spatially, these sands mainly accumulate along the axis of the unidirectionally migrating deep-water channels and are preferentially deposited to the side toward which the channels migrated. Temporally, these sands mainly accumulated during the late lowstand lateral-migration and active-fill stage.

The bottom current–reworked sands developed under the combined action of gravity and/or turbidity flows and along-slope bottom currents of NPIW-BCs. Other factors, including relative sea level fluctuations, sediment supply, and slope configurations, also affected the formation and distribution of these sands. The proposed distribution pattern of the bottom current–reworked sands has practical implications for predicting reservoir occurrence and distribution in bottom current–related channels.

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Considerable effort has been devoted to the development of simulation algorithms for facies modeling, whereas a discussion of how to combine those techniques has not existed. The integration of multiple geologic data into a three-dimensional model, which requires the combination of simulation techniques, is yet a current challenge for reservoir modeling. This article presents a thought process that guides the acquisition and modeling of geologic data at various scales. Our work is based on outcrop data collected from a Jurassic carbonate ramp located in the High Atlas mountain range of Morocco. The study window is 1 km (0.6 mi) wide and 100 m (328.1 ft) thick. We describe and model the spatial and hierarchical arrangement of carbonate bodies spanning from largest to smallest: (1) stacking pattern of high-frequency depositional sequences, (2) facies association, and (3) lithofacies. Five sequence boundaries were modeled using differential global position system mapping and light detection and ranging data. The surface-based model shows a low-angle profile with modest paleotopographic relief at the inner-to-middle ramp transition. Facies associations were populated using truncated Gaussian simulation to preserve ordered trends between the inner, middle, and outer ramps. At the lithofacies scale, field observations and statistical analysis show a mosaiclike distribution that was simulated using a fully stochastic approach with sequential indicator simulation.

This study observes that the use of one single simulation technique is unlikely to correctly model the natural patterns and variability of carbonate rocks. The selection and implementation of different techniques customized for each level of the stratigraphic hierarchy will provide the essential computing flexibility to model carbonate settings. This study demonstrates that a scale-dependent modeling approach should be a common procedure when building subsurface and outcrop models.

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Seismic amplitude anomalies have been used for over 40 years to identify and de-risk exploration opportunities with a great degree of success. Beginning in the late 90s, the global industry portfolio of solid amplitude-supported opportunities started to get depleted in many basins. The depletion of high-confidence opportunities resulted in drilling of intrinsically riskier amplitude anomalies leading to significant exploration failures and unexpected outcomes. This paper presents several examples of volume and scenario-based DHI assessment workflows from selected Circum-Atlantic basins, with discussion of underpinning rock properties systems and lessons learned from drilling results.

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Charles Sternbach comments on AAPG's Discovery Thinking Forum initiative.
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