University geoscience programs face a challenging future as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic – one that could have significant and even dire implications for oil and gas. Educators, mostly outside the United States, are already sounding an alarm.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/the-longest-year-we-ever-had-hero.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true The state of geoscience higher education in 2021 'The Longest Year We've Ever Had'
 

Last year started with promise for the Colombian offshore industry. Shell EP Offshore Ventures Limited and Ecopetrol, S.A. signed an agreement for Shell to acquire an interest in and operate the Fuerte Sur, Purple Angel and Col-5 blocks located in the southern Colombian Caribbean basin. Noble Energy opened an office in Barranquilla and announced plans to drill a prospect at 8,500 feet on the Col-3 block in the Guajira Basin in northern Colombia. Ecopetrol and Petrobras prepared to mature the 2014 Orca discovery on the Tayrona block, also in Guajira. Then COVID-19 came to the Americas in March 2020, and everything changed.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/long-term-strategies-for-colombias-offshore-hero.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true Despite market uncertainty, Ecopetrol and Shell seek natural gas to fuel the country’s energy transition Long-Term Strategies for Colombia’s Offshore
 

Last summer, nearly 30 geoscientists and engineers from the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources trekked through an array of outcrops in the Sulphur Mountain Formation to piece together how the Montney Formation – Western Canada’s most prolific resource play – was formed. Rock by rock, they saw how the outcrops revealed a history of sedimental deposition, sedimentary structures, trace and body fossils, and even a bone bed. And, rather than getting there by airplane or car and hiking over tumultuous terrain, they navigated each nook and cranny from the comfort of their homes. For most CSUR members, it was their first virtual fieldtrip and will likely not be their last.

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The AAPG EXPLORER has been following the progress of the Perseverance rover and the history of the search for life on Mars. Perseverance’s journey in space culminated in its safe landing in Jezero Crater near Mars’ equator on Feb. 18, 2021. Now, Perseverance begins its journey of geologic exploration, fieldwork and the search for signs of past Martian life. NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have deployed a series of successful and ever-more-sophisticated rovers. They have been deployed across the planet at carefully selected landing sites to explore for signs of Mars’ warmer and wetter past when it may have hosted the evolution of life.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/exploring-with-the-rovers-hero.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true The geology of Mars Exploring with the Rovers
 

People in the oil and gas industry often speak of, and always seek to find, the “sweet spot” of a given play, field or reservoir. Ask anyone in the oil patch, “What is a sweet spot?”, and you will often get an answer long on colorful recollections and short on hard details. Ask a follow-up question about the history of sweet spots and you will probably receive only a baffled look.

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I was watching some old movies during a recent snowstorm in Tulsa. One of them was “Back to the Future.” In this case, “the future” was 2015. The movie “Rollerball” was set in 2018, and “Terminator” was supposed to be from 2020-30. Have you ever noticed that the future is not that far away? As you could see from my last column, I’ve had “the future” on my mind. So, in thinking again about the future, I want to discuss governance. This will not be my most exciting column, but it is important.

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Management with the Dynamic Group of Houston are convinced after four years of study that they have identified significant new play potential deep on the west Louisiana shelf, a province largely regarded by industry as mature for exploration. “Most of our industry thinks the U.S. shelf is in late life, and the only remaining opportunities are for low-risk, low volume exploitation targets,” said Rob Pascoe, managing director and chief geologist. “We believe that may not be the whole story. Our studies describe a large-scale new play, with the potential to be liquids rich and high value.” He said new technology and geological insights are the key.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/significant-new-play-potential-hero.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true ‘Significant New Play Potential' in West Louisiana Shelf
 

Last month we looked at the reasons why, as geoscientists, we need low frequencies. We also reviewed the sensors used to receive the reflected seismic signals and the recording instruments. This month’s article will address some of the issues of the seismic source. In other words, how do we get the required low frequency energy into the Earth? The two most frequently used sources for land acquisition are vibrators and explosives. We will assess the operational and cost differences between them and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/a-look-at-seismic-forces-hero.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true Low-Frequency Land Seismic Data Acquisition: Part 2 A Look at Seismic Sources
 

“Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change,” said Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Galactic. This is true of many scientific and business ventures buffeted by 2020's economic chaos. “Survive and thrive” describes the efforts of all the AAPG sections and affiliated societies. Our AAPG sections include the nation's most vital and historic geological societies. As the new AAPG vice president of sections, it is an honor to host a monthly virtual teleconference meeting with the section presidents, presidents-elect and society leaders.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/Sternbach-Linda-Dec2019.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true AAPG Sections Adopt New Conference Tactics in Challenging Times
 

Thomas E. Hopps was a lifelong Californian who loved geology, loved working the Ventura Basin and other complex state structures and loved, especially, doing what he could to help others. And now that legacy of helping others is about to add a new chapter: A new AAPG Foundation Named Grant-in-Aid is being funded in his name.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/hopps-thomas.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true Announcing the Thomas E. Hopps Memorial Grant
 

Later this month here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ll enjoy the spring equinox and with it the passing of winter to spring. For those of us here in North America, particularly our members in Texas who recently experienced a polar vortex accompanied by snow, ice and freezing temperatures, this transition is welcome. With spring comes new beginnings and that, too, is welcome. The concerns of COVID have not vanished, but as vaccinations roll out across the globe, we glimpse the possibility of recovery. I am hopeful.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/curtiss-david.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true Onward to New Beginnings
 

President Joe Biden, upon taking the reins of leadership, made it very clear that he is going to focus on clean energy and preserving the environment. On day one, he cancelled the permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline cross-border oil transportation project. The president forgot that pipelines are cheaper and safer than rail and trucks. Canada may as well ship their oil to Asia. We are and will remain in need of hydrocarbons for transportation well into the future. A healthy oil industry will be needed as we transition to clean energy sources.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/DEG-200x200.png?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true The World Has Changed, Let’s Change With It
 

In the best of times, AAPG’s Director of Innovation and Emerging Science/ Technology Susan Nash has to weigh the costs and benefits of “the next big thing” out there for the industry, separating the helpful from the hyperbolic, to see which new advancements will have the greatest impact on how the industry moves forward. But undertaking all that in the middle of a pandemic is a whole new ballgame, for it makes an industry – especially one like the oil and gas industry – to take stock of exactly what the possibilities and ramifications will be when the future landscape has been so transfigured by recent events that it is almost unrecognizable from anything that preceded it

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We all know 2020 was an unprecedented year, on all levels. For AAPG, we were challenged as never before to fulfill our purpose – we learned, adapted, modified our ways of doing business and then worked diligently to implement new innovations and technologies to meet the needs of our membership. But even as we seek to creatively and effectively advance the geosciences, we remain focused on why we do what we do: You have supported us with your membership, and we’re here to support you in your professional development and growth. That’s proven to be a valuable relationship. And each month we enjoy the chance to not only thank all of you for your ongoing support but also to publicly recognize those who are celebrating milestone anniversaries with AAPG.

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Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/meta_AAPG_-200x200.jpg?width=100&h=100&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=75amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true Celebrating the Loyalty of Membership

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