Despite dour industry conditions and low expectations from some corners, AAPG’s 2016 Annual Convention and Exhibition in Calgary, Canada, saw a strong turnout and high acclaim for what was, by all accounts, a monumental technical program.
“I know this sounds counter to many of our Members’ personal experience but I think we are entering into a period of renaissance for petroleum geology,” Paul MacKay, president and CEO of Calgary-based Shale Petroleum and general chair for AAPG’s 2016 ACE, told the EXPLORER.
“I believe this conference was a watershed moment that showed all of us that we can contribute to our science in a meaningful way, remain engaged, keep our intellectual curiosity and continue to grow even when employment opportunities are less than what we have become accustomed to,“ he added.
The event was June 19-22 at the BMO Centre and it saw a turnout of almost 4,300 people from all over the world.
The extraordinarily high quality of this year’s technical talks was one of the most commented upon features of this year’s ACE.
“The technical session was very well received due to the fact that we had the highest number of submissions with a very high review score,” said MacKay. “This year we had more than 1,800 submissions and space for approximately 900 talks and posters.”
”As a result the acceptance bar was exceptionally high,” he added.
One might assume the high number of submissions was precisely because of the downturn – presenting at ACE is great way to enhance a resume and stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive, barren job market.
MacKay has a different theory, though.
“There was likely some of this going on but it does not explain the early rush to submit that we experienced nor explain the very high level of quality that we experienced,” he said.
MacKay pointed out that while interest in the industry most definitely saw a sharp increase when prices were high, there was no corresponding loss of fervor among geologists when the price plummeted.
“My personal feeling is that geologists truly enjoy their profession. For many of our Members, geology is a passion rather than simply a profession,” he said. “We are in both a difficult time of less employment but a wonderful stage of having time to follow the passion of geology. In other words, we have a dedicated and able membership that can begin to chase the ideas that have fostered for the past decade.”
“AAPG has responded to this latest slow-down in a very meaningful way by making the technical session affordable to those who are without a steady income, as well as raising the technical standards,” MacKay added. “This is what good organizations do – they help their membership reach new levels. I believe that we will recover, there is a human cost to these downturns but AAPG has decided to stand with their membership and deliver an excellent technical show.”
“It was an honor to be a part of an incredible week,” he added.
Next year’s ACE promises to be even bigger, with AAPG’s 100th anniversary in 2017. It will be April 2-5 at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. The Call for Abstracts is open and industry professionals, academics and students are invited to submit their abstracts now that relate to any of the themes listed at ACE.AAPG.org/2017. Exhibition space and sponsorship opportunities for the centennial ACE 2017 are also available.