The oil and gas industry struggles with some unique challenges in working toward a sustainable future. In a way, the social aspect of those challenges comes down to two words: Prove it. Often accused of being part of the problem in sustainability and not part of the solution, the oil industry faces an unusually high burden of proof when it seeks environmental trust from the public.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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India is a land that is rich with geological wonder, but is also beset with social and environmental problems. A group of AAPG members is using their knowledge and love of geology to create opportunity and hope on the subcontinent.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Do super basins have a role in sustainable development? The short answer is, Yes. Super basins can be part of a sustainable energy and environmental future for the planet. A more complex answer is: It depends on how you define “sustainable.” In the view of the oil and gas industry, sustainability has an economic component and an environmental component. Hydrocarbon-based energy is essential for a sustainable world economy in that view, and it will be for a long time to come.

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In the business of oil and gas exploration, it’s all about managing risk. Companies are more likely to drill where there are strong indications of hydrocarbons from field and seismic data, nearby wells and discoveries – and preferably, all of the above. So, when the federal government officially opens the doors in the near future to the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for commercial drilling, it could be like watching a game of poker.

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As I am writing this column, AAPG has just completed its first fully virtual annual meeting – ACE 2020. By most accounts it was very successful. The technical program committee provided a great slate of talks, posters and core studies. The staff placed it on a platform that was easy and fun to use. The whole meeting was a unique virtual experience.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover launched on July 30, 2020, toward Mars. The Perseverance landing is planned for Feb. 18, 2021 at Jezero Crater in the Nili Fossae region of Mars. According to rover science team members Sanjeev Gupta and Briony Horgan, the mission science goal will be “to explore the history of water and chemistry in an ancient crater lake basin and associated river-delta environments to probe early Martian climates and search for life.” The Mars 2020 spacecraft is currently halfway to Mars, traveling at about 100,000 kilometers per hour, relative to the Sun. It will take about six months (203 days) to traverse the 480 million kilometers from Earth to Mars on a sweeping Hohmann Transfer Orbit.

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In the early exploration days, petroleum geologists were required to take field trips to inspect, map and collect geological data in remote locations, sometimes inaccessible except by foot, horse, mule or boat. Geological publications and maps of these hard-to-reach regions were almost non-existent, and the first geologists had to start from scratch, without any of the geological information that present-day geologists take for granted. They faced hazardous and unsafe situations, including heavy rains, flash floods, rockfalls, landslides, sunstrokes, mosquito bites, venomous snakes and spiders, attacks from natives and wild animals, and endemic diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. Our story here is about a strange encounter with an enigmatic creature during a geological fieldwork expedition for oil exploration in western Venezuela, close to the Colombian border. The encounter was years later revealed to be one of the most notorious scientific frauds.
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“Machine learning” has become a common phrase in geophysics. These methods, based on complex algorithms and statistics, allow geoscientists to speed up and improve their interpretations. However, as interpreters, we can feel intimidated and concerned about how much of our expertise can be replaced by machine learning algorithms. To better understand the limitations, we assess the importance of human validation and participation in one machine learning process, highlighting the upsides and downsides of a machine-derived process versus a geoscientist-guided selection of attributes. As Earth scientists, we explored a suite of seismic attributes and selected those that were meaningful for interpreting a deepwater channel system and compared our results with the attributes derived from principal component analysis.

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Associations exist to serve their members, and AAPG is no exception. Those of us who have the privilege of holding leadership positions in our Association have the responsibility to listen and respond to members’ comments and concerns. I am writing address questions that our leadership team has received about why we ask presenters and committee members to pay a registration fee to participate in virtual events that they support with their time and expertise.

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The month of July 2020 was indeed an eventful one on AAPG’s calendar, as various divisions and regions of our great Association underwent changes in leadership. The young professionals arm of AAPG Africa Region was not left behind, as the baton of leadership was passed to Philip Ajaebili, ably supported by AAPG Africa Region Program Manager Delia Kuye, AAPG Middle East and Africa Region Director Abeer Zubaidi and a team of dedicated YP representatives in several African countries to build on the great efforts of past leaders and YP representatives in the region.

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Emma Giddens was a California girl who fell in love with carbonate rocks, excelled in nearly everything she tried, led her IBA team to a Selley Cup victory and even as a graduate student was known internationally for her “pioneering” research. In fact, professors at three schools marveled at her passion for geology, her intelligence, her kindness and mentorship of fellow students. Tragically, Giddens died shortly after receiving word that her research was being honored with an AAPG Foundation Grant-in-Aid.

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Together we have experienced many difficult challenges this past year; economic, health, social and ecological catastrophes around the globe. We have learned so much, and as a result we’ve adapted and modified our ways of doing business and implemented new innovations to ensure we successfully (and safely) meet the needs of our membership.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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This month I’d like to direct your attention to a project that we’re excited about: AAPG Mobile, a new mobile app for iOS and Android devices that is your digital connection to AAPG and its members with a simple tap of the screen. You can download it now from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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By the time you are reading this I hope you have attended your first virtual AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition – ever! What a success it was, with up to 10 concurrent sessions including talks and posters. Our own Claudia Hackbarth and Mike Bingle-Davis chaired a session on the future of oil and gas and Bill Ambrose chaired one on expanding energy frontiers to Earth, the moon and Mars. A new format was offered with live presentations and interactive panels that were moderated and conducted by experts in their fields.

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