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Explorer Director’s Corner

Last month Houston hosted the 23rd World Petroleum Congress with more than 5,000 attendees from 70 countries. After a one-year postponement due to the global pandemic, energy leaders from across the globe gathered to discuss the future of energy. And the tone of the discussion was sobering. Following on the heels of November’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow, there was recognition that political and societal pressures are shifting the energy sector and the industries in it. But there was widespread concern that the expectations underlying these pressures for change were unrealistic. That those pushing hardest for change lacked a fundamental understanding of what transforming the global energy sector truly entailed, what it would look like when it was complete and the dangers looming from getting it wrong.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer President’s Column

Listening to “You Are My Life/Enta Omri” as I write prompted me to think about how much I love what I do, including past and future travel and the evolving energy industry. Late last year, I spent two weeks in Saudi Arabia, meeting with exploration geoscientists. The trip was made more special by seeing geoscience facilities that were built after my last visit and by interacting with young professionals. This environment of constant change reminds me that geoscientists are the people who advance a science that involves lots of change. Our adaptability is essential to our careers and to our existence as humans who use energy every day.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Geophysical Corner

The estimated hydrocarbon reserves around the world, when produced, can keep us going for the next several decades. But scientific records and our own experiences are enough evidence that climate change is indeed happening. Addressing it requires energy extraction from non-fossil fuels. One such resource is the natural heat of the Earth, or geothermal energy.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Historical Highlights

Before unconventional resources became prevalent in the global petroleum supply, deepwater exploration and development was a significant focus for many larger companies. For deepwater activities to succeed, the petroleum industry was forced to merge its above-ground concerns with the below-ground geoscience and engineering disciplines.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

Producers finally got some relief in 2021. Oil and gas prices recovered from their pandemic lows and remained at high levels through most of the year, as increased production could not keep pace with a global demand recovery. It was a year when higher prices helped energy producers strengthen their balance sheets and improve their bottom lines.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

While the COVID-19 pandemic ground the world to a halt in 2020, crisis led to creativity and opportunity in many parts of the world. For four geoscientists in Colombia, the pandemic became the perfect time to serve their country and their profession. In May 2020, two weeks after oil prices dropped below zero, Colombia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation launched a bidding contest allocating nearly $3 million to finance geoscience research projects for the hydrocarbon sector.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: AAPG Member Glen Penfield’s life-changing discovery of the Chicxulub asteroid crater is the subject of a new movie.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

One of the more provocative but less publicized initiatives introduced at the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow is an international effort to end oil and gas exploration and production. The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, created by Denmark and Costa Rica, officially launched its program at COP26.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

Technological advances in the geothermal energy sector are making some geoscientists hopeful about the potential to deliver its energy resources almost anywhere on the planet. The growing need for clean, resilient, baseload energy coupled with recent advancements in oil and gas technology have prompted geoscientists to push the boundaries of geothermal resources. Looking beyond the natural settings of the resource, geoscientists are working to bypass geographic and geologic limits so that geothermal energy can be used around the world.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Asia Pacific Blog

We are delighted to announce that the abstract submissions deadline for the upcoming #AAPG 'Structural Geology and our Future - the Role of Tectonic Geoscience in Energy Transition, Focusing on the Asia-Pacific Region' GTW has been extended! Final abstract submission closing date will be 30 January 2022. Take advantage of these extra days and get involved in this exciting event by sharing your paper with other industry experts. For more information, please follow the link: https://bit.ly/3peplrE

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) seismic-reflection surveys provide one of the most important data types for understanding subsurface depositional systems. Quantitative analysis is commonly restricted to geophysical interpretation of elastic properties of rocks in the subsurface. Wide availability of 3D seismic-reflection data and integration provide opportunities for quantitative analysis of subsurface stratigraphic sequences. Here, we integrate traditional seismic-stratigraphic interpretation with quantitative geomorphologic analysis and numerical modeling to explore new insights into submarine-channel evolution.

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Request a visit from Jacob Covault!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

Paleozoic North America has experienced multiple mountain building events, from Ordovician to Permian, on all margins of the continent. These have had a profound effect on the resulting complex basins and their associated petroleum systems. Subsequent uplift, erosion and overprinting of these ancient systems impedes the direct observation of their tectonic history. However, the basin sedimentary records are more complete, and provide additional insights into the timing and style of the mountain building events. In this study, we employ ~90 1D basin models, ~30 inverse flexural models, isopachs, and paleogeographic maps to better understand the Paleozoic history of North America.

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Request a visit from Kurt W. Rudolph!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

President Biden has laid out a bold and ambitious goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the United States by 2050.  The pathway to that target includes cutting total greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and eliminating them entirely from the nation’s electricity sector by 2035. The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management will play an important role in the transition to net-zero carbon emissions by reducing the environmental impacts of fossil energy production and use – and helping decarbonize other hard-to abate sectors.

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Request a visit from Jennifer Wilcox!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

Production from unconventional petroleum reservoirs includes petroleum from shale, coal, tight-sand and oil-sand. These reservoirs contain enormous quantities of oil and natural gas but pose a technology challenge to both geoscientists and engineers to produce economically on a commercial scale. These reservoirs store large volumes and are widely distributed at different stratigraphic levels and basin types, offering long-term potential for energy supply. Most of these reservoirs are low permeability and porosity that need enhancement with hydraulic fracture stimulation to maximize fluid drainage. Production from these reservoirs is increasing with continued advancement in geological characterization techniques and technology for well drilling, logging, and completion with drainage enhancement. Currently, Australia, Argentina, Canada, Egypt, USA, and Venezuela are producing natural gas from low permeability reservoirs: tight-sand, shale, and coal (CBM). Canada, Russia, USA, and Venezuela are producing heavy oil from oilsand. USA is leading the development of techniques for exploring, and technology for exploiting unconventional gas resources, which can help to develop potential gas-bearing shales of Thailand. The main focus is on source-reservoir-seal shale petroleum plays. In these tight rocks petroleum resides in the micro-pores as well as adsorbed on and in the organics. Shale has very low matrix permeability (nano-darcies) and has highly layered formations with differences in vertical and horizontal properties, vertically non-homogeneous and horizontally anisotropic with complicate natural fractures. Understanding the rocks is critical in selecting fluid drainage enhancement mechanisms; rock properties such as where shale is clay or silica rich, clay types and maturation , kerogen type and maturation, permeability, porosity, and saturation. Most of these plays require horizontal development with large numbers of wells that require an understanding of formation structure, setting and reservoir character and its lateral extension. The quality of shale-gas resources depend on thickness of net pay (>100 m), adequate porosity (>2%), high reservoir pressure (ideally overpressure), high thermal maturity (>1.5% Ro), high organic richness (>2% TOC), low in clay (<50%), high in brittle minerals (quartz, carbonates, feldspars), and favourable in-situ stress. During the past decade, unconventional shale and tight-sand gas plays have become an important supply of natural gas in the US, and now in shale oil as well. As a consequence, interest to assess and explore these plays is rapidly spreading worldwide. The high production potential of shale petroleum resources has contributed to a comparably favourable outlook for increased future petroleum supplies globally. Application of 2D and 3D seismic for defining reservoirs and micro seismic for monitoring fracturing, measuring rock properties downhole (borehole imaging) and in laboratory (mineralogy, porosity, permeability), horizontal drilling (downhole GPS), and hydraulic fracture stimulation (cross-linked gel, slick-water, nitrogen or nitrogen foam) is key in improving production from these huge resources with low productivity factors.

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Request a visit from Ameed Ghori!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

Around 170 million years ago, the Gulf of Mexico basin flooded catastrophically, and the pre-existing landscape, which had been a very rugged, arid, semi-desert world, was drowned beneath an inland sea of salt water. The drowned landscape was then buried under kilometers of salt, perfectly preserving the older topography. Now, with high-quality 3D seismic data, the salt appears as a transparent layer, and the details of the drowned world can be seen in exquisite detail, providing a unique snapshot of the world on the eve of the flooding event. We can map out hills and valleys, and a system of river gullies and a large, meandering river system. These rivers in turn fed into a deep central lake, whose surface was about 750m below global sea level. This new knowledge also reveals how the Louann Salt was deposited. In contrast to published models, the salt was deposited in a deep water, hypersaline sea. We can estimate the rate of deposition, and it was very fast; we believe that the entire thickness of several kilometers of salt was laid down in a few tens of thousands of years, making it possibly the fastest sustained deposition seen so far in the geological record.

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Request a visit from Frank Peel!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

While there are many habitats that are associated with the deposition of organic-rich marine and lacustrine source rocks, one important pathway is linked to the onset of increased basin subsidence associated with major tectonic events. A key aspect is that this subsidence is spatially variable, with the uplift of basin flanks contemporaneous with the foundering of the basin center, resulting in a steeper basin profile.

Request a visit from Kurt W. Rudolph!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

The carbonate sequences that were deposited in the now exhumed Tethyan Ocean influence many aspects of our lives today, either by supplying the energy that warms our homes and the fuel that powers our cars or providing the stunning landscapes for both winter and summer vacations. They also represent some of the most intensely studied rock formations in the world and have provided geoscientists with a fascinating insight into the turbulent nature of 250 Million years of Earth’s history. By combining studies from the full range of geoscience disciplines this presentation will trace the development of these carbonate sequences from their initial formation on the margins of large ancient continental masses to their present day locations in and around the Greater Mediterranean and Near East region. The first order control on growth patterns and carbonate platform development by the regional plate-tectonic setting, underlying basin architecture and fluctuations in sea level will be illustrated. The organisms that contribute to sequence development will be revealed to be treasure troves of forensic information. Finally, these rock sequences will be shown to contain all the ingredients necessary to form and retain hydrocarbons and the manner in which major post-depositional tectonic events led to the formation of some of the largest hydrocarbon accumulations in the world will be demonstrated.

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Request a visit from Keith Gerdes!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

This presentation is a survey of subsurface machine learning concepts that have been formulated for unconventional asset development, described in the literature, and subsequently patented. Operators that utilize similar subsurface machine learning workflows and other data modelling techniques enjoy a competitive advantage at optimizing the development of unconventional plays.

Request a visit from Shane Prochnow!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

In comparison with the known boundary conditions that promote salt deformation and flow in sedimentary basins, the processes involved with the mobilization of clay-rich detrital sediments are far less well established. This talk will use seismic examples in different tectonic settings to document the variety of shale geometries that can be formed under brittle and ductile deformations.

Request a visit from Juan I. Soto!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

For well over a century there have been conflicting indications of the strength of the crust and of faults and what controls them.  Much of our ignorance comes quite naturally from the general inaccessibility of the crust to measurement--in contrast with our understanding of the atmosphere, which is much more accessible to observation as well as more rapidly changing.  Crustal strength is best understood in deforming sedimentary basins where the petroleum industry has made great contributions, particularly in deforming petroleum basins because of the practical need to predict. In this talk we take a broad look at key issues in crustal strength and deformation and what we can learn from boreholes, earthquakes, active fault systems, and toy models.

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Request a visit from John Suppe!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

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