St. Petersburg Draws International Crowd

Drawing about 500 geologists from 32 countries, the St. Petersburg meeting in July was far more international than regional in attendance.

The meeting's technical focus was on the Arctic and exploration in difficult and sensitive areas -- however, the addition of a Caspian Sea session broadened the scope to draw from many southern and southeastern European countries.

Also surprising and delightful was the attendance of AAPG members from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Nigeria, Egypt, Kuwait and even a sizable contingent from Colombia, South America, who felt the conference and the venue provided an excellent place to meet the right people for talks of future business opportunities.

Image Caption

Meet the press: Miklail Belonin, Robbie Gries and Wofgang Scholinberger answer questions from the Russian media during a St. Petersburg press conference.

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Drawing about 500 geologists from 32 countries, the St. Petersburg meeting in July was far more international than regional in attendance.

The meeting's technical focus was on the Arctic and exploration in difficult and sensitive areas -- however, the addition of a Caspian Sea session broadened the scope to draw from many southern and southeastern European countries.

Also surprising and delightful was the attendance of AAPG members from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Nigeria, Egypt, Kuwait and even a sizable contingent from Colombia, South America, who felt the conference and the venue provided an excellent place to meet the right people for talks of future business opportunities.

Mikhail Belonin, with VNIGRI in St. Petersburg, was the general chairman and can take credit for a successful meeting. Irina Gildeeva was officially field trip chair, but she also substantially took care of details, which made this an especially good meeting for all participants -- and she always had a nice smile and good humor.

The two field trips held in conjunction with the conference also received rave reviews, according to AAPG member Chuck Caughey, who traveled from Singapore to attend the conference.

Despite record-breaking heat, St. Petersburg was totally captivating with its abundance of palaces, churches, amazing architecture, history and exceptional Peter the Great engineering.

Wolfgang Schollnberger and Walter Grün worked solidly to ensure participation from the West, while Valentin Shimansky, Dirk van der Wel, Geir Lunde, Konstantine Osypov and David Houseknect could be proud of creating an excellent technical program, with excellent contributions from meeting co-sponsors EAGE and SEG.


Development opportunities with proven production are boundless for companies looking for areas to target their engineering and development geological expertise. Ray Leonard, AAPG member working in Moscow with Yukos Oil Corp., commented on the numerous billion-barrel opportunities and equally large gas opportunities that are being neglected.

This could be in part the result of previous deal structures. Though production-sharing agreements seem to work successfully in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, the companies operating most successfully in Russia appear to have turned to the western royalty/tax model.

As Alexey Khitrov, Russian Ministry of Energy, pointed out, "There are billions of barrels of proven reserves with little geologic risk."

The Russian sessions focused largely on huge Arctic fields, especially in the Timan Pichora Basin, that are grossly underdeveloped. The Alaskan papers focused on the mature province around Prudhoe Bay and Kuparek fields, the two largest producing fields in the United State. These papers featured the environmentally sensitive and precautionary techniques developed and used in the Arctic.

The Smolny Institute, Catherine the Great's philosophical convent for young noble women that is now a beautiful public hall, was perfect for the Icebreaker, where good vodka and excellent food was followed by fireworks. And there were plenty of good philosophical discussions, too, in keeping with the setting!