A hard winter combined with a natural gas supply shortage could mean some difficult choices for Europe over the coming months. The looming cold-weather crisis may cost European governments and industries a staggering amount of money to subsidize energy availability and household utility payments, while also derailing climate action commitments. And even then, there’s no guarantee that Europe will get to next spring without grim consequences.

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Consider the geophysics sector of the industry a shrink-to-fit enterprise where misery might be starting to bring its own relief, and business is improving after recent years of financial ups and downs. With, admittedly, more downs than ups. Higher oil and gas prices this year have brought either a spark of enthusiasm or a glimmer of hope to many geophysical companies. And the technical side of geophysics has continued to advance strongly despite the business challenges.

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“We’re probably at least 10 times larger. I mean, it just dwarfs any other project in North America.” That’s Vincent Ramirez, CEO of 3PL Operating, Inc., talking about a large and valuable lithium discovery his company has made in Railroad Valley, Nev. As lithium will play a vital role in the world’s changing energy landscape, generally, and because much of the known lithium deposits are in Chile, Australia, Argentina and China, specifically, 3PL’s find in central Nevada is potentially a very big deal.

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Embracing the exploration spirit so often embodied in the annual Halbouty Lecture, Cindy Yeilding, retired senior vice president of BP America, rallied and encouraged her audience at the August 2022 IMAGE conference to repurpose their geoscience knowledge and skillsets for the energy transition. As the world searches for viable ways to decarbonize, it will not be uncommon to hear people say, “That technology will never work at scale, or it might work but it’s never going to make any money,” Yeilding said. “Those are all parts of the energy transition conversation, which tells us that using our exploration mindset is right for new exploration opportunities.”

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This debate began decades ago: How much of the planet's natural gas is abiotic – made up of methane with nonbiological origins? At times, the scientific back-and-forth argument has resembled a slow-motion tennis match, with a new volley coming every few years. Now, Daniel Xia thinks he has helped deliver a winning smash across the net. His findings were most clearly laid out in a recent article “Validity of geochemical signatures of abiotic hydrocarbon gases on Earth,” by Xia and coauthor Yongli Gao, published in the Journal of the Geological Society.

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Deepwater turbidite reservoirs hold some of the largest petroleum reservoirs and thus are important exploration targets. By identifying and mapping the diverse architectural elements of the turbidite system and placing them within the correct geologic framework, a skilled interpreter can predict which components of the system are more likely sand or shale prone. Seismic data and seismic attributes also provide insight into the connectivity or compartmentalization of different parts of the reservoir which can be used to estimate the number of wells needed to drain the reservoir.

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People often associate Utah with spectacular canyons cut into the Colorado Plateau, the state’s five national parks, incredible skiing in the beautiful mountains, the opportunity to wade around in the briny water of Great Salt Lake or hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Visitors to the state, as well as most of its citizens, don’t think of Utah as a major producer of oil and gas. However, Utah has consistently ranked among the highest oil and gas producers in the United States.

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I suddenly realized I was having a déjà vu moment while standing on the exhibition floor in Houston at IMAGE 2022. I was in the main aisle trying to remember where I wanted to go next when I was suddenly transported back to the AAPG annual meetings we had in the 1980s. Shockingly, the excitement and energy I could see in the large crowd ahead of me mentally jerked me back to all of those great AAPG annual conventions we had before COVID. As an old codger, I have an excuse for this kind of mental lapse, but I don’t think I was the only one who felt this way. Many other attendees expressed similar feelings to me about IMAGE ‘22.

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András Németh, a geologist and research expert for Hungarian energy company MOL, tragically passed away on Sept. 12 at the age of 46. He was a key member and supporter of the AAPG in Europe. He was an active and vocal supporter of the AAPG Foundation and three Hungarian student chapters of AAPG, and was highly involved with the Europe Region Imperial Barrel Award competition. He co-chaired the Visiting Geoscience Program from 2011-2017. He was a member of the AAPG House of Delegates since 2018, and he co-chaired the Europe Region Conference in May of this year.

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Back when I kept a summer home in Denver, I had two neighbors who bought mountain bikes. Two years later, I bought one of the bikes for 10 cents on the dollar. It was in pristine condition. I asked my neighbor why he was selling. He said, “It never did anything for me.” I asked him how often he rode it. He replied, “Ride it? You mean I have to put energy into this thing?” The AAPG is the same as a mountain bike. They are both wonderful vehicles that can take you to exciting places. But you must put energy into them.

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He started his career, famously, as a geology student who was not at the top of his class, yet he eventually took his place among the most honored geologists of his era. A new named grant has been established by the AAPG Foundation in the honor of legendary, award-winning geologist Paul Potter, thanks to the generosity of his family and of the AAPG Eastern Section.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/potter-paul-large.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true Foundation Announces New Grant Named for Legendary Geologist Paul Potter
 

Mapping the collapse of globalization. Seriously, that’s the subject of the book you’ve been reading?” I had a chance to connect with Vaughn Thompson, long-time friend and past president of the AAPG Pacific Section, at IMAGE’22. We have known each other since I was a youngish professional and he a graduate student at the University of Utah. And every time we catch up, one of us asks the question: What have you been reading lately? Vaughn’s recommendation to me this time was Peter Zeihan’s new book, “The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization.

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In my first column, I discussed some of the challenges facing our industry, AAPG, and DPA and introduced my theme for my term: “Renew and Engage.” I’m pleased to hear this resonated with so many of you and look forward to sharing the latest plans for the coming months. We are committed to deliver programs that appeal to our members, entice new members and reconnect our community.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Search & Discovery, the popular open access, online journal owned and operated by Datapages, Inc. is once again accepting new submissions. We’re once again posting abstracts submitted to us by the AAPG sections and regions from their meetings. And if you’ve recently presented at one of those meetings or at IMAGE’22 and want to ensure that your work is available to a broader audience, we invite you to submit your presentation slides or poster to Search & Discovery. Our team will work with you to get it formatted and posted online.

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