Please picture what I witnessed over the last three weeks of September:
- Geologists and geophysicists from all over the world, listening attentively to the presentations of other geoscientists, discussing geotechnical problems and solutions, searching for the right words, waving their arms, pointing to maps, sharing and learning hard-won knowledge and insights.
- New connections established, new friendships made, new deals done.
- And AAPG, facilitating countless such exchanges, providing venues for the mutual benefit of the geoscience community, the E&P world — and long-term global energy supply.
That's what I experienced, from Sept. 10th through the 26th, in Paris, France; Morgantown, W.Va.; and Jackson, Wyo. Such events are one of AAPG's main functions, and our many dedicated volunteer members and hard-working staff employees carry these meetings off with skill and grace.
I am filled with pride for our profession, our Region and Section members and our Association. We are doing what we are supposed to be doing as professionals and as professional organizations.
Take it backwards:
- The annual Rocky Mountain Section meeting in Jackson Hole, Sept. 24-26, ramrodded by Jerry Walker with much help, but especially from Donna Anderson, RMS president, and Sandra Mark, both from the Colorado School of Mines. More than 700 people showed up for two and a half days of excellent papers and posters.
Lots of smiling faces and palpable optimism — it's amazing how many new opportunities emerge when oil is $60 a barrel!
- Stopover on the way back from Paris — the annual meeting of the Eastern Section in Morgantown, W.Va., Sept. 17-20. Lee Avary ran a first-class meeting with help from a host of ES buddies, particularly Murray Matson, ES president, and Pete McKenzie, president-elect.
Two and a half days of great papers and posters, fellowship and fun — and the electric atmosphere that goes with higher wellhead prices, and renewed E&P activity — enjoyed by close to 400 geoscientists, exhibitors and guests.
- First stop, Paris — it was the second-largest of AAPG's 17 International Conferences and Exhibitions (ICE), with 1,879 attendees. They heard 255 technical papers and visited 240 poster presentations at the CNIT Conference Center at La Defense, the spectacular modern business complex on the western edge of Paris.
The Paris ICE was stoutly supported by international E&P corporations: 53 companies together contributed more than $400,000 to support the conference (see their names and logos displayed on pages 31-32 of this EXPLORER). One hundred exhibitors displayed their E&P products and services in the Exhibits Hall.
General Chairman Jean-Marie Masset, Total's senior VP of Geoscience, and his entire Organizing Committee planned and implemented the event with efficiency and verve. Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) was our gracious host, with IFP's executive vice president and director of exploration-technology business unit Gérard Fries serving as vice chair. Mikael Dumeunier, Bernard Colletta, Christophe Mercadier and André Coajou made especially noteworthy contributions.
Sunday's opening session set the stage for the conference — all speakers addressed various aspects of the energy transition the world has now entered. The French Minister for Industry, Francois Loos (a mining engineer), concluded the session and led us all into the Exhibits Hall for the traditional Icebreaker.
Of course, it was no surprise that the Paris ICE would be preoccupied with the current world energy transition, because of the recent strong rise in global crude oil and natural gas prices, uncertainties regarding the stability of Iraq and U.S. supply interruptions arising from Hurricane Katrina.
As AAPG president, I had been looking for an appropriate personal gift for my friend, General Chairman Jean-Marie Masset, one that acknowledged this global transition we are all in, and which conveyed my appreciation for his efforts.
Since 1966 I have followed the evolving career of the revered Texas artist who paints as "G. Harvey." Stopping by a gallery that carries his work last August, I was attracted to a small numbered and signed print of his oil painting of two slickered horsemen leading a packhorse out of a small town on a rain-drenched dawn, with a couple of wooden oil derricks in the background, each lit by irregular strings of running lights hung along the derrick legs. The title of the painting was "Lights of a New Era." So I bought it, thinking it evoked the notion of an earlier transition period in the oil business, and carried it to Paris for Jean-Marie.
We decided to present it to him at a small dinner planned for Sunday night, after the Icebreaker, which was held to honor a group of international E&P executives who were speaking the next day at a special leadership forum. Arranged by AAPG's international liaison and conferences manager Dana Patterson Free and promoted by ExxonMobil's Pinar Yilmaz, the dinner was held at the Musée Jacquemart-André, an extraordinary 19th century mansion that houses a remarkable collection of paintings and sculptures by 15th to 18th century European masters. Their collection of paintings by Francois Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard was especially impressive.
Our group sat down to dinner in a spectacular salon with a high decorated ceiling, dazzling crystal chandeliers and walls covered in dark red damask, on which were hung a variety of classic paintings. It is the most elegant room in which my wife, Alice, and I ever enjoyed a meal, with an exceptional international company to match.
After dinner, I rose to acknowledge the group and thank them for attending. Somewhat intimidated by my elegant surroundings, I nevertheless presented to Jean-Marie the G. Harvey painting, emphasizing the theme of Energy Transitions. He received it with his usual grace, and we proceeded on to dessert.
A few minutes later, just before our group dispersed, I glimpsed out of the corner of my eye the little G. Harvey picture being held up against the damask-covered wall, just below a sensuous Boucher nude, and accompanied by some animated and happy chatter from Jean-Marie's table.
The 2005 Paris International Conference and Exhibition was a great success. Our hosts were thorough, efficient, accommodating and most gracious. AAPG and our IFP hosts succeeded in providing a splendid venue where international geoscientists could gather and share and learn. European and Middle Eastern geoscientists were especially conspicuous and engaged. And of course, the magical city of Paris provided its inimitable ambience for the four days of the conference.
AAPG is proud to help facilitate such gatherings.
Alice and I experienced a memorable few days in Paris, and departed for home tired but fulfilled, and deeply appreciative of the warm hospitality of our hosts. And I will always carry with me the recollection of that elegant dinner at the Musée Jacquemart-André, and the image of G. Harvey's two grizzled cowpokes on a damask-covered wall, keeping company, however briefly, with the works of Boucher and Fragonard.
With sadness, I report the death of Bob Megill on Sept. 28.
Robert E. Megill had an enormous, beneficial impact on petroleum geoscientists and engineers by teaching them, clearly and effectively, how to evaluate the financial value of their plays and prospects. He showed scientists that finance and business were their key partners in E&P, and he helped them learn to command the economic part of prospect evaluation, so as to take responsibility for and control of their professional products.
For nine years, Bob wrote a monthly column, "The Business Side of Geology," for the EXPLORER. He also wrote two books that became E&P classics, An Introduction to Exploration Economics (1971, 1979, 1988) and An Introduction to Risk Analysis (1977, 1984). Together with Ed Capen and myself, Bob designed and taught a seminal AAPG short course, "Managing and Assessing Exploration Risk" for nine years.
Bob Megill was a Christian gentleman, a dedicated teacher, an effective mentor and a splendid personal example. His contributions were legion and lasting. We mourn his passing but celebrate his life.
Sincere condolences to his wife Margie, son Greg, daughter Janna and all Megill family and friends.
Winning the Oil Endgame — Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security, by Amory B. Lovins and others, 305 pp., Rocky Mountain Institute (2005). Free individual public downloads available at www.oilendgame.com.
OK, so maybe the U.S. public is finally becoming convinced that we need to make some big changes in our energy use, and that we need to start now — but just how should we proceed? Lovins and his group have provided a thoughtful, informed and detailed roadmap for us to use, employing free-market forces and without excessive government intervention.
A must read for all AAPG members, citizens, policymakers and legislators.
Read it, you'll like it!