Like many, I subscribe to the oil, gas and energy newsfeeds. Take your pick as to which you prefer and the reliability of their sources. Good news, bad news, ups, downs and constant change in markets, business and knowledge. There is often conflicting information, minimal new knowledge and seldom any wisdom. In many ways, it is all just noise.
This might sound harsh, but a continual view to the future is all that is required. At the 2018 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Salt Lake City, the Energy Minerals Division will be leading, looking and moving forward – viewing the future, with no noise!
Most have received the early 2018 ACE brochure. This will be an impressive and important meeting.
Overall, EMD is sponsoring or co-sponsoring 10 oral sessions and five poster sessions which include more than 160 top quality papers ranging from global and regional perspectives on unconventional resources to energy and mineral resources in our solar system. Our two short courses cover new concepts in geochemistry, an important topic across all petroleum resources, and the assessment and evaluation of unconventional resources, which are critical in the modern energy world. We are looking forward and hope to seek and impart knowledge, and maybe even a little wisdom!
A View to the Future
When considering the future of our industry, innovation and new technologies are always discussed. It might be splitting hairs but I believe that having a “view” toward the future could be more important. “What’s the difference, and why is a view forward important?” you might ask. A “view” forward is a philosophy, a belief system – admittedly empowered by innovation and technology – but a belief that there is value and meaning in positive, progressive change toward a beneficial goal. We travel over the horizon maybe not fully knowing what is there, but knowing that we can understand, adapt, change, build and grow. Our energy industry is doing nothing if not continually traveling over the horizon, yet sometimes we hesitate with the old and fear the new.
I have a personal example to illustrate this. Outside my old office at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, from probably 2002 through 2013, there was a series of old wooden large format flat map files, several filing cabinets filled with old papers, notes, samples and core, aging and stuffed cardboard boxes and map tubes, and uncounted floppy disks and reels of magnetic tape, all accumulated in one of those empty spaces where old government office hallways intersect. This accumulation of material was the original data developed, analyzed and used in the 1980s and ‘90s eastern shale gas research program. If you have studied the history of the development of unconventional shale gas you know that the eastern shale gas program was the seminal research and development program that led to the global expansion of unconventional shale production. They changed the world and our industry owes much of its existence to these files. The results of this work suggested and proved that black shales contained enormous quantities of hydrocarbon and that expanding their permeability by hydraulic fracturing would be possible and productive.
However, there was considerable resistance to this as “just another government study,” an unnecessary expenditure, and a pervasive attitude of “We know how to produce tight gas sands and conventional oil and gas reservoirs so we don’t need this,” so it was several years before there was serious follow-up. It was a horizon too far.
I have a very personal anecdote about this. In 1988, I had a chance to locate a deep Ordovician stratigraphic test at the southeastern, faulted edge of the Illinois Basin. The area was undrilled for several miles around and we only had a couple of old single-point seismic lines and the regional gravity and magnetic data. I targeted, I hoped, the high side of a down to basin normal fault. We drilled, had a few shows in the Mississippian as expected, but drilled an incredibly thick black and brown Devonian shale section producing gas that bubbled in our pits all while we were continually losing circulation. The gas saturated my detector and we had to keep the mud weight higher than expected all the way to total depth. The driller thought it was coming from shallow and a local consultant thought we had popped a Mississippian zone, but I knew, and the logs confirmed, it was the Devonian shale.
How could this be?
Shale did not produce, it was a seal! I was slammed in the face with an obvious condition that did not meet my trained expectations. I could not get past what should be in favor of what actually was. This was a bad philosophy. I was afraid to cross that horizon. My view forward was poor.
The Next Horizon, and the Next
Our goal in the EMD is to keep our membership looking forward, to develop a view across all global energy sources, to provide new knowledge and even develop wisdom. We look forward to expanding the horizon, and the next, and the next!
If you are late in paying your AAPG dues please catch up and make sure your membership in the EMD is active. Join us so we can all “view” forward together.