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Charles A. Sternbach, IMAGE 2021 Michel T. Halbouty Lecture

IMAGE 2021 | Denver, Colorado and Online

IMAGE 2021 | Denver, Colorado and Online


Super Basin Thinking: Methods to Explore and Revitalize the World’s Greatest Petroleum Basins. Michel T. Halbouty Lecture presented by Charles A. Sternbach at AAPG SEG IMAGE 2021 event in Denver, Colorado.

The Michel T. Halbouty lecture series – funded by the AAPG Foundation – is an ongoing special event at the International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy. Lecture topics are designed to focus either on wildcat exploration in any part of the world where major discoveries might contribute significantly to petroleum reserves, or space exploration where astrogeological knowledge would further mankind’s ability to develop resources on Earth and in the Solar System.

The AAPG Super Basin initiative creates an action plan to help geoscientists revisit the world's most productive petroleum basins by providing resources through conferences, online presentations, and publications like the AAPG Bulletin's special issues. Understanding Super Basins better enables us to apply technologies that can reveal each unique Super Basin's full resource development potential. By studying the world's most significant petroleum Super Basins, we document concepts to find and produce hydrocarbons more economically in all basins.

Between 2000 and 2015, game-changing technologies reinvigorated many of the world's greatest onshore and offshore basins. Workflows that caused production peaks to reach new heights included horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in unconventional onshore reservoirs and enhanced seismic imaging in conventional offshore reservoirs. Improved understanding of source rocks, petroleum systems, oil habitats, stratigraphy, rock properties, and clinoform architecture enhances the exploration and development toolkit. Reduced costs, improved processes, and multidisciplinary teams created a new golden age in many Super Basins.

Super Basin Thinking forms a new paradigm useful in directing actions. Super Basins foster new technology because they possess key geologic factors and a basin-level economy of scale that fuels innovation. New concepts, techniques, and methodologies developed in Super Basins benefit the entire ecosystem of hydrocarbon recovery. As geoscientists, global thinking improves our ability to provide abundant and affordable energy choices, and when done correctly, can also benefit economies and our environment. Super Basins, geoscientists, and the AAPG play vital roles in this noble effort.

Dr. Charles A. Sternbach has explored for Energy in the US and around the globe for 40 years. He served as Staff Geologist for Shell Oil Company, Exploration Manager for Tom Jordan, President of First Place Energy, and is currently President of Star Creek Energy. Charles earned a Ph.D. (and MS) in Geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a BA in geology from Columbia University. The University of Houston appointed him a research professor in 2019.

Charles has focused his efforts on Exploration Creativity throughout his career and as president of AAPG (2017/2018). He created and chairs AAPG programs like Discovery Thinking, Playmakers, Giant Fields, and Super Basins. These impactful programs integrate geology, geophysics, and engineering into case studies of business success. Discovery Thinking Forums have drawn 12,000 attendees at 25 programs since 2008 and many more on the AAPG website.

Charles served as lead editor of the 2017 AAPG/DPA special publication: "Heritage of the Petroleum Geologist." While he has 50 Data Page citations to his credit, he takes great pride in inviting, encouraging, and helping 500 fellow geoscientists present a paper or talk. Charles has visited with 1,000 students at 30 Universities.

In 1967, Michel T. Halbouty started the AAPG Giant Fields of the Decade Memoir series. Charles and Halbouty became friends and worked on projects together for a decade. To keep the Giant Field flame alive, Charles co-edited the fifth and sixth installments of Giant Fields of the Decade 2000-2010 and the Decade 2010-2020 that was released May 2021.

In 2018, Charles originated the AAPG Super Basin program as AAPG President. Fifteen super basin themed events have engaged 5,000+ attendees. Four Global Super Basin Leadership conferences offer explorers a rich online legacy Charles speaks today on "Super Basin Thinking—Methods to explore and revitalize the greatest petroleum basins." This topic is the lead-off paper in a series of Super Basin special issues for the AAPG Bulletin planned to cover Earth's greatest petroleum basins.

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