Director’s Corner

Conventions: Celebrations, Connections, Memories

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
AAPG Executive Director David Curtiss with his mentor and friend, the late William H. “Bill” Kanes, a Distinguished emeritus professor at the University of South Carolina.
AAPG Executive Director David Curtiss with his mentor and friend, the late William H. “Bill” Kanes, a Distinguished emeritus professor at the University of South Carolina.

The organizing committee has been working for more than a year, and now the time is almost here. Across the globe, geoscience professionals in our industry are packing their bags, preparing to travel to Houston, Texas.

It’s time for the 2014 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE).

“Ideas & Innovation: Fuel for the Energy Capital” is this year’s convention theme, and as you have read in these pages, there is a lot to see and do at ACE this year.

Come and learn the latest scientific advances your professional colleagues have been working on. The technical program alone boasts 425 oral presentations and 403 posters. And the list of forums and special sessions include this year’s History of Petroleum Geology event, not just one but two Discovery Thinking forums and a special session on communicating our science.

Carlos Dengo will present the Michel T. Halbouty lecture, “Transcending Geoscience Paradigms for Exploration Opportunity Growth.” And the luncheon speakers over three days include:

  • Kirk Johnson, the Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
  • AAPG member Susan Cunningham, senior vice president of Noble Energy.
  • Anthony Fiorillo of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
  • Scott Tinker, past AAPG president and director of the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, talking about “The Future of U.S. Shale.”

The next generation of petroleum geoscientists will be competing in the Imperial Barrel Award competition. Out of a total of nearly 130 university teams worldwide, the final 12 teams will be at ACE to present their analysis and assessment of a particular exploration dataset.

And at the IBA awards ceremony, just before the opening session, you’ll find out which team takes the prize this year. This colorful and exciting event is open to everyone – it’s a perfect lead-in to our opening session.

And speaking of the opening session: You won’t want to miss this dramatic, multi-media event where we’ll recognize and celebrate the professional achievements of our colleagues. It all culminates in two very special presentations – Ernie Mancini will receive the Sidney Powers Memorial Award, AAPG’s highest award, and Pete Rose will receive the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award.

In the exhibition hall you’ll find the latest technological innovations and tools that you can use to find more oil and gas. And participate in the Explore the Floor contest to have the chance to win prizes as you visit the exhibition.

This year AAPG’s International Pavilion celebrates 20 years and anchors one end of the exhibition, with exhibitors from around the world offering investment opportunities and information about new opportunities in their countries.

If you are in charge of global new ventures for your firm, or simply want to see what is happening in other parts of the world, be sure to visit the International Pavilion.

But surely one of the best reasons to come to ACE is to spend time together.

Where else can you get together with thousands of other petroleum geoscientists from around the globe, seeing old friends, meeting new friends and making the contacts that can lead to future opportunities and business?

Making and reinforcing these connections strengthens our profession. And that makes it one of my favorite aspects of ACE.

This year, however, preparing for ACE is bittersweet for me.

Last month our profession lost a petroleum geologist whose life exemplified the nature of global connections and cooperation in our industry. And many AAPG members and other petroleum geoscientists – myself included – lost a professor, former boss, mentor and friend.

Professor William H. “Bill” Kanes passed away unexpectedly last month in Columbia, S.C. A Distinguished emeritus professor at the University of South Carolina, who got his start in the industry as a geologist for Esso, Bill was a pioneer in fostering and growing ties between the oil and gas industry and academia.

In 1973 he founded the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute at the University of South Carolina, initially funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, for conducting fieldwork and geoscience research across North Africa, from Morocco to Egypt. In the early 1980s the institute transitioned to an industry-funded research consortium model and expanded its research portfolio to Latin America, the former Soviet Union and Asia.

The institute moved to the University of Utah in 1995 under Bill’s direction, and changed its name to the Energy & Geoscience Institute. It celebrated its 40th anniversary last year and has more than 70 international oil and gas companies that sponsor its research programs around the globe.

This is where I grew up, both figuratively and literally, as a graduate student at South Carolina and professionally at the University of Utah. It’s where I learned to love our business, learning from and working with Bill and the many other remarkable people whose lives and careers have intersected ESRI and EGI.

In fact, no matter where in the world I am, from Tripoli to Bogota, Bahrain to Houston, when I meet a petroleum geoscientist and we quickly skim our histories to look for common experiences or people, there are no more than two degrees of separation before we get to Bill or the institute. They either know him themselves or know someone who does.

That is his wonderful legacy.

I hadn’t spoken to Bill in almost two years. I had allowed the busyness of personal life and career to take over, and hadn’t spent the time and effort to maintain that connection as well as I should have.

Then in early March my office phone rang, and out of the blue I heard Bill’s voice on the line. He was excited about ACE and about getting together. In fact, he was arranging a dinner with several other South Carolina grads, including DEG president Doug Wyatt and DEG past-president Tom Temples, Bill’s last two doctorate students, and wondered if I would be able to join him. The answer, naturally, was “Of course!”

Sadly, Bill passed away the following week. But I am so grateful for his phone call and the fact that we had a few minutes to talk and to catch up on life.

It’s so easy to let these relationships slip, to grow cold.

Who has been influential in your life and career? Is it possible that you’ll both be attending ACE this year? Don’t wait. Make the phone call and take this opportunity to reconnect.

Bill, thank you for the influence that you had in my life. Rest in peace, my friend.

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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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