AAPG presidents’ job description includes following global industry activity, visiting different parts of the world and attending AAPG events. The International Pavilion, a staple at AAPG annual conventions and international conferences since 1994, enables them to accomplish these tasks simultaneously.
AAPG President Charles Sternbach noted how the International Pavilion affords the opportunity to travel (virtually) to many countries, all in one convenient time and place. He met with representatives from Australia, Africa, Europe and the Americas exhibiting in the IP during the International Conference and Exhibition (ICE) icebreaker reception in London late last year.
“The IP enables explorers to scan global opportunities, to learn about the latest discoveries and bid offerings, and to network with those who know the areas in detail,” he said. “The data, displays and interactive presentations offer a high bandwidth of opportunity and technology sharing. Overall, it’s a way to have a fun and productive experience while being sensible on the travel budget.”
Gina Godfrey, co-founder of petroWEB, has managed the International Pavilion for AAPG for the past 14 years.
“The mission of the IP is to help provide a worldwide showcase for countries promoting exploration and investment opportunities, she said. “We focus on providing a platform for bringing together countries with oil and gas resources and oil and gas companies looking to explore and produce them.”
The ICE London IP featured 15 exhibitors representing 14 countries from six continents. Their participation highlighted global opportunities for exploration and development in both traditional markets and lesser-known areas.
Volcanoes and Prospects
IP participation brought global attention to the Faroe Islands, a country of 50,000 people located halfway between Scotland and Iceland.
Heri Ziska, head of geoscience exploration at the Faroese Geological Survey, attended primarily to promote the Islands’ bid round closing in February 2018.
“We need to maintain visibility as well and to capture people who come by. There are people who still don’t know we have a round,” he said.
The Faroe Islands have both oil and gas potential. The nine wells drilled offshore and three stratigraphic tests onshore have drawn interest from abroad. But the country’s volcanic geology creates uncertainty.
“We are a high-risk/high-reward area. There are really large opportunities, but there are risks associated as well,” Ziska said.
In addition to participating in the IP, Ziska attended technical sessions focused on topics relevant to the Faroe Islands.
“At ICE there are talks about volcanic geology and how it affects hydrocarbons, how you can produce from these reservoirs” he said. “This is kind of new and very interesting for us.”
New Logo, New Future
Namibian national oil company, NAMCOR, used the ICE London IP as a platform to announce the company’s transformation from a traditional government regulatory agency to an integrated commercial company.
Managing Director Immanuel Manulunga distributed business cards with the new company logo – a 12-point spiral representing the movement of the Namibian sun.
He shared high hopes for Namibia’s upstream and downstream potential, highlighting one of the country’s greatest assets – its data.
“The Namibian database is unequalled in Africa. It’s one of the best you can find,” he said.
Manulunga talked to ICE attendees about the potential for turning data into discoveries. Namibia’s last significant discovery was in 1974, a small field with 1.3 trillion cubic feet of gas. Wells drilled in 2012 found oil in source rock, but the find was not economical enough to continue.
“We know that there is oil and gas in Namibia. But it needs to be discovered,” Manulunga said. “We are still a frontier country.”
He said there have been fewer than 30 wells drilled on the entire continental shelf, and the country has nearly 1,800 kilometers of unexplored coastline.
He added that Namibia’s plentiful data, geological potential and open licensing system are not the only benefits available to investors.
“We have a stable exploration environment, a stable government, political stability, and rule of law,” he said. “It’s predicable, so you know what you’re bargaining for when you come to Namibia.”
An Easy Place to Do Business
Frontier exploration potential and stable operating environments were themes at the other end of the International Pavilion, where representatives from Geoscience Australia and the state of South Australia promoted onshore and offshore bid rounds and prospectivity.
Handing out fuzzy koalas and USB drives, Elinor Alexander, director of South Australia’s geoscience exploration branch, talked with visitors about prospective basins. She highlighted the benefits Australia offers to companies.
“Australia is still largely unexplored. There are lot of frontier opportunities so companies can get in early and make discoveries at the ground level,” she said. “There’s enormous potential and easy access to data. It’s a friendly democracy, an easy place to do business and a great place to visit and take in some amazing geology.”
She hopes that exhibiting at ICE and other events will continue to attract investors to Australia.
“We love making as much data available as possible,” she said. “It’s free and easy-to-get and people love that.”
Geoscientists as Civil Servants
Making data accessible is a strategy shared by Nova Scotia, Canada’s Department of Energy, which joined the IP to announce a bid round in offshore Cape Breton.
Petroleum Branch Executive Director R.A. (Sandy) MacMullin explained how his team conducted a play fairway analysis on the play and made the results available online free of charge.
In the past 10 years, the province has spent $32 million ($26 million U.S.) on geoscience work – an amount MacMullin considers a worthy investment.
“We realize that the great risk in our offshore is geological in nature. It hurts exploration economics. If we can help reduce exploration risk we will encourage companies to come to Nova Scotia,” he said.
MacMullin notes that since Nova Scotia started hiring geoscientists to do analysis, the province has received more than $2 billion in exploration commitment bids from Shell, BP and Statoil.
“There’s no question that the work that we did had an impact. Industry has said they found the work to be trustworthy and they use it,” he said. “What we’re comfortable with in our analysis, we say; what we are not comfortable with, we say that too.”
MacMullin noted how lower energy price environments have caused governments to examine what role they can play to increase investment or reduce risk in their jurisdictions.
“It’s interesting to see the new model we developed is working,” he said. “We can do original work, and companies see it as helpful. The analysis is free and complete. It’s made available to everyone.”
Working closely with industry to promote exploration is a key theme for ANCAP, the Uruguayan national oil company and regulator who came to London to promote the Uruguay round 3, offering exploration and production contracts in the country’s offshore basins.
“ANCAP has systematically and permanently participated in the International Pavilion over the last nine years,” said Santiago Ferro, the agency’s administration and contracts manager. Ferro noted that IP participation in different locations provides the opportunity to meet contacts in many parts of the world.
During ICE in London, ANCAP representatives met with companies who do not traditionally travel to Uruguay or South America.
“We accomplished the objective of making new contacts, and promoting Uruguay round 3,” Ferro said. “Our meetings and presentations helped us introduce our opportunities to important oil companies from Europe and Asia.”
He shared ANCAP’s message of “more exploration with better contracts, excellent data availability, less risk, and lower investment requirements for future operators.”
ANCAP’s search for future partners includes participation in the International Pavilion. The agency has reserved space for a stand at the IP at the AAPG Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE) in Salt Lake City on May 20-23.
Godfrey noted that the IP will have a new feature at the upcoming ACE. In addition to the traditional exhibition of countries, the IP will be offering a new International Speaker Program hosted in the IP Theater on the exhibition floor.
The program features three tracks, license rounds and open acreage, current exploration activity and opportunities and new data acquisitions.
“Attendees can expect to come away with heightened insight into current and future global activity,” she said.
To join the IP or for more information, contact Gina Godfrey.