Two geologists had a dream one day of publishing a book that would serve as a definitive guide to the world of petroleum geology.
That dream led to one of the more ambitious publishing efforts in AAPG history -- a series of maps, handbooks, papers, reprints and original studies that is the AAPG Treatise of Petroleum Geology.
And now, the project is being crowned with what its surviving editor believes is its final jewel.
Exploring for Oil and Gas Traps, edited by Edward A. Beaumont and the late Norman H. Foster, is an 1,100-page volume covering the critical topics in exploration.
"This is the volume we started out to do first," Beaumont said, recalling the time more than 15 years ago when he and Foster first conceived of the idea that led to the Treatise project.
"It's the most important book of the series," he continued, "and that's why we wanted to get the others finished first -- so we could devote the most time to this one."
The volume is a handbook about prospecting for oil and gas traps -- a "how-to" of techniques to evaluate the critical elements necessary to discover oil and gas accumulations.
Its 20 chapters are divided into five parts covering:
- Exploration philosophy.
- Petroleum systems.
- Critical elements of petroleum provinces.
- Critical elements of traps.
- Prediction of the occurrence of traps.
"I remember, we were in San Antonio for the AAPG annual meeting in 1985," Beaumont recalled, "when Norm came up to me and asked why AAPG had never published a book that was solely on petroleum geology."
The two geologists kicked the idea around over the course of the meeting, realized how important such a book would be -- not just to current but also future geologists -- and then decided they would try to do the book themselves.
"We put an outline together for one book," Beaumont said -- but then they quickly realized that one book couldn't begin to tell the whole story.
"So it's been an evolving project over a series of years," he said, "with one book becoming four books, becoming three series, becoming ..."
Accessible and Practical
Exploring for ... Traps is the third effort in the Treatise's handbook series, the others being Source and Migration Processes and Evaluation Techniques and The Business of Petroleum Exploration.
Its format is in Information Mapping, a structured technical writing style that Beaumont believes "makes information more accessible, easier to understand and easier to remember.
"It is especially well suited for procedure-based books," he added.
A full listing of the book's contents can be found on the AAPG Web site. Some of the specific chapters include:
- "Characteristics of Oil Finders."
- "Formation Fluid Pressure."
- "Predicting Reservoir System Quality and Performance."
- "Applications of 3-D Seismic."
Beaumont, who played the pivotal role in the Treatise's editing and overall direction, said he felt "like a nervous father-to-be" about the arrival of this book, adding that he was sure Foster would be proud of the final product.
Foster, a Sidney Powers medalist and past president of AAPG, died Jan. 1, 1999, after a lengthy illness.
"He (Foster) had such an expansive imagination to visualize the need (for this book) among the membership," Beaumont said. "This book was Norm's original concept."
And although Beaumont hinted there may be "one more 'potential' book" involving reservoirs that could be added to the collection at a later date, Exploring ... Traps is being recognized as the Treatise's finale.
Three series compose the Treatise: The Atlas of Oil and Gas Fields, the Reprint volumes and the Handbooks of Petroleum Geology.
The Atlas of Oil and Gas Fields presents field data about dozens of fields worldwide, compiled in three volumes on stratigraphic traps and eight volumes on structural traps.
The Reprint series consists of 20 volumes covering basins, seals and traps, structural geology, geophysics, formation evaluation and a final volume on "Oil is First Found in the Mind," paraphrasing famed geologist Wallace Pratt's 1952 quote on exploration.