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Explorer Director’s Corner

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Regions and Sections

“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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Geophysical Corner

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

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

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Historical Highlights

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.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Article

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.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

Why H₂ is generated in subsurface? Which are the reactions and the promising geological setting? Example in countries where H₂ have already been found: Australia, Brazil. Kinetic reactions: i.e., Is the natural H₂ renewable? What we don't know yet about this resource and about the H₂ systems (generation/transport/accumulation). Overview of the current landscape (subsurface law, permitting, E&P activity)

Request a visit from Isabelle Moretti!

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

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

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

Local sea-level changes are not simply a function of global ocean volumes but also the interactions between the solid Earth, the Earth’s gravitational field and the loading and unloading of ice sheets. Contrasting behaviors between Antarctica and Scotland highlight how important the geologic structure beneath the former ice sheets is in determining the interactions between ice sheets and relative sea levels.

Request a visit from Alex Simms!

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)
DL Abstract

As oil and gas exploration and production occur in deeper basins and more complex geologic settings, accurate characterization and modeling of reservoirs to improve estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) prediction, optimize well placement and maximize recovery become paramount. Existing technologies for reservoir characterization and modeling have proven inadequate for delivering detailed 3D predictions of reservoir architecture, connectivity and rock quality at scales that impact subsurface flow patterns and reservoir performance. Because of the gap between the geophysical and geologic data available (seismic, well logs, cores) and the data needed to model rock heterogeneities at the reservoir scale, constraints from external analog systems are needed. Existing stratigraphic concepts and deposition models are mostly empirical and seldom provide quantitative constraints on fine-scale reservoir heterogeneity. Current reservoir modeling tools are challenged to accurately replicate complex, nonstationary, rock heterogeneity patterns that control connectivity, such as shale layers that serve as flow baffles and barriers.

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Request a visit from Tao Sun!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
DL Abstract

Climate change is not only happening in the atmosphere but also in the anthroposphere; in some ways the former could drive or exacerbate the latter, with extreme weather excursions and extreme excursions from societal norms occurring all over the earth. Accomplishing geoscience for a common goal – whether that is for successful business activities, resource assessment for public planning, mitigating the impacts of geological hazards, or for the sheer love of furthering knowledge and understanding – can and should be done by a workforce that is equitably developed and supported. Difficulty arises when the value of institutional programs to increase equity and diversity is not realized.

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Request a visit from Sherilyn Williams-Stroud!

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)

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