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Explorer Article

NASA’s Perseverance rover is traversing the Martian landscape with an enhanced autonomous navigation system. This is the first phase of the rover’s epic journey across the Jezero Crater floor looking for clues of possible ancient life. The rover team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory works around the clock planning driving routes and transmitting instructions. The team uses 3-D virtual reality glasses as an aid to visualize routes around obstacles. Over time, Perseverance will become more autonomous using enhanced AutoNav. This system uses multiple cameras to plan a route avoiding obstacles without more time- consuming direction from controllers back on Earth.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

The International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy, or IMAGE ’21, the integrated annual event of AAPG and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in conjunction with the Society for Sedimentary Geology, is all set to be held online and in Denver, Colo., Sept. 26 to Oct. 1. The event will bring together many of the greatest minds and leaders from multiple disciplines of the geosciences sector, which includes an impressive lineup of keynote speakers that include IHS Markit’s Daniel Yergin, Kirsten Siebach of the Mars Perseverance mission and Kirk Johnson of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

“The beauty of the unconventionals is, while they’re expensive, we know where they are.” That’s Carlos Torres-Verdin, Brian James Jennings memorial endowed chair and Zarrow centennial professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, talking about the promise of unconventional energy production in the United States, both from an industry standpoint and with a view to its position in the country’s future energy mix. According to a study by the Harvard University Business School, by 2030, 3.8 million jobs, half of which would be accessible to middle-skilled workers, could potentially be supported by the development of unconventional resources.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Historical Highlights

Petroleum exploration on the United States’ Outer Continental Shelf has a colorful history, punctuated by the interplay between private enterprise and government oversight. Except for a thin strip near the coast controlled by the adjacent coastal state, the entire area is under federal government jurisdiction. As of 2020, the OCS provides about 15 percent of U.S. domestic oil production and 2 percent of natural gas. The following is a brief history of that government oversight and how the author’s involvement may have saved the industry’s activity in the OCS from being nationalized.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer ProTracks

We are development geologists working the Permian, and from where we are sitting, it feels as though, as an industry, we are just beginning to figure out how to develop large-scale unconventional plays and work as unconventional geologists. We are going through a revolution that will change – not just unconventional development – but all subsurface work. However, resumes of entry-level geoscientists, industry conferences and a general finger-on-the-pulse feel of the current state of the industry lead us to believe that we have a great deal of room to grow. The good news is, it has never been easier to join the movement, and young professionals are well positioned to take the lead.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Geophysical Corner

Blending of seismic attributes with additive primary colors is a standard visualization procedure used by interpreters to integrate the information contained in them and carry out comprehensive interpretation. In the December 2019 and February 2020 installments of Geophysical Corner, we described how color is perceived by the human eye, and how colors are rendered on interpretation workstation monitors. We also described the additive RGB color model which forms the working model for computer monitors, as well as the subtractive CMYK model and the HSV and HSL color models frequently used for covisualizing seismic attributes.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

“Transmission, generally, is a bipartisan issue.” That hopeful note on the national energy grid, specifically the need to fortify, improve and expand it so Americans can efficiently get the energy they need – and in the midst of all the rancor about what the president’s infrastructure bill will or will not ultimately encompass – comes from Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. The reason there seems to be bipartisan support on the grid is in part, he said, because regardless of party affiliation, Americans have come to rely on being able to access the energy we need. Making sure that is always the case, made more complicated by all the new energy sources that will soon travel the grid, was the topic of a recent GE-sponsored Axios event on the transmission of energy, it’s resilience, sustainability – and reinvention.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Emphasis Article

Analog traps are an important part of any geoscientist’s tool kit, and there is no better source than understanding how giant fields form and have been found by past and current generations of explorers. My sojourn into learning about these big fields was in the mid-1980s at Amoco in Denver, part of a task force charged with understanding how to better explore for big, subtle, stratigraphic and combination traps. Meeting weekly for lunch for several months, a team of us reviewed Amoco’s proprietary “Red Book” – a collection of summaries of giant fields worldwide, which included maps and rock properties, but, more importantly, the strategy used in finding each field. In addition, we pulled heavily from AAPG giant fields publications compiled from hundreds of AAPG volunteers.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Emphasis Article

Kathryn Ball didn’t move from geology to data engineering on a whim. “It’s called survival. With all the changes in the industry, you have to reinvent yourself,” she said. She called that switch from geoscience “a left turn in my career” and described her formative experiences in data engineering as “a painful time. But I got to learn about systems, about processes, and how data has to be to do analytics.” Computing and data skills are now the number-one, most in-demand skills for industry worldwide, Ball noted, and that needs to be a wake-up call for petroleum geoscientists.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Emphasis Article

In a famous exchange from the movie “The Graduate,” Mr. McGuire says to the young Benjamin Braddock, “I want to say one word to you. Just one word: Plastics.” If Ben Braddock happened to be a geology student today, Mr. McGuire would no doubt say two words: “Data science.”

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)
VG Abstract

The Betic hinterland, in the westernmost Mediterranean, constitutes a unique example of a stack of metamorphic units. Using a three-dimensional model for the crustal structure of the Betics-Rif area this talk will address the role of crustal flow simultaneously to upper-crustal low-angle faulting in the origin and evolution of the topography.

Request a visit from Juan I. Soto!

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)
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

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

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

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)
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

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)
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)

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