It's more than a forum.
Call it a Gala.
That's Robert Ginsburg's take on the History of Petroleum Geology field trip and confab set for opening day of AAPG's 2005 annual get-together in Calgary.
"It's like a history gala," said Ginsburg, who will serve as co-chairman of the Sunday events along with Robert Hatcher. "You get up early in the morning to go on a field trip about the history of exploration in Canada, have a sandwich on the bus and then on to the forum dealing with the history of exploration in the Middle East -- and then on to the awards ceremony."
The forum itself has become a regular feature at AAPG's convention. The ongoing focus centers on lessons learned from past exploration efforts -- including those learned from failures.
Given the immense speculation about Middle East oil supply these days -- Is capacity maxed out? Are there significant additional volumes available? -- this year's theme is particularly apropos.
"Obviously the Middle East is a perennial subject for anything to do with oil, and especially now because of Iraq, Ginsburg said. "So we decided, let's do this."
Included on the agenda is a talk by Abdulkader Afifi from Saudi Aramco outlining the special geological circumstances responsible for the immense hydrocarbon deposits in this part of the world (January 2005 EXPLORER). Saudi Arabia's spectacular success in the exploration milieu will be discussed by Saudi Aramco's Mahmoud Abdul-Bazi.
Given the ongoing difficulties of trying to rev up production in Iraqi fields with their aging infrastructure and not-infrequent insurgent attacks on pipelines and such, John Scott's scheduled presentation on Iraq could be particularly timely. He will provide a look at this country's tumultuous century of exploration activity and offer an intriguing glimpse of the potential for giant fields yet to be discovered in this oil-rich yet politically-challenged locale.
Learning the Hard Way
Past mistakes can be powerful teachers, yielding some profound lessons.
Marlan Downey, a regular EXPLORER columnist ("Looking Back") and past AAPG president, will make this point as he talks about some of the now-fascinating mistakes made in the early days of Iranian oil exploration prior to World War I, when camel caravans and site-built drilling rigs were the norm.
Among other problems, risk-taking exploration pioneers were forced to barter away their contractual interest to continue their efforts.
Perusing the history books to study the relatively colorful mistakes made in the oil business in Iran and elsewhere in long-ago times can be a worthwhile endeavor.
"History tells stories; wisdom extracts guidance from those stories," Downey noted.
If you're a tad confused as to why a field trip in Canada is a part of this Middle Eastern "gala," Ginsburg emphasized it brings in still more history. And, he noted jocularly, "everybody else has a field trip, so why not us?"
ýn fact, the trip's destination Ð the Turner Valley oil and gas field -- has played a major role in Canada's E&P history, according to Ginsburg. Gas seeps first called attention to this hydrocarbon accumulation in the early 1900s, initiating exploration activity in Turner Valley.
The field has been key to the evolution of geological and geophysical interpretation in western Canada.