AAPG is trying something new about something
A technical session at the annual meeting in Salt
Lake City will focus on “New Discoveries.” That title alone is a
ringing alarm clock for geologists who seek a peek at the industry’s
But this session is going to be “new” in at least
one other way.
Unlike most technical sessions, “New Discoveries”
will have only two presentations — and organizers hope that by
providing detailed blueprints of how the elephants were found, others
will find applications in their own projects.
Why just two presentations?
It’s a deliberate effort to give sufficient time
to describe and discuss every facet of the discoveries, according
to Brenda Cunningham, AAPG’s global development director who co-chairs
the session with Jack Thomas, AAPG geoscience director.
“Each year (at the annual meeting) we focus on technical
contributions in the science and the industry with the hope that
the information presented can be applied by others at their own
projects,” Thomas said.
“We felt that initiating a discovery session at the
annual meeting that focuses on just the discovery itself — the
geology, geophysics, engineering and legislative issues that impacted
the success — would serve as a model for others,” he added.
The co-chairs envisioned discoveries so significant
in quantity or technology that they themselves might trigger changes
in the way people explore for oil and gas.
“This brings a differential level of offering to
our annual meeting,” Cunningham said. “We want these to be presentations
that people can hear for the first time the data surrounding a new
hydrocarbon discovery. So it was important that this be the first
time the data has been disseminated in detail.”
The sessions, in addition to dealing with science
and technology, also will discuss the circumstances and serendipity
surrounding the discoveries.
“Each presentation tells a more complete story,”
Cunningham said, “who had the first idea, how long did it sit on
the shelf, did it take a change in management or the team concept
to get it off the ground, what are some of the softer issues.”
Stories to Tell
Both of the discoveries slated to be discussed have
good stories to tell.
- Jim Emme, vice president of exploration
for Anadarko Petroleum, will present “An Exploration Journey Through
the Berkine Basin, Algeria — Past, Present and Bright Future!”
- John R. Denis, BP’s shelf exploration
delivery manager, Trinidad, will present “Discovering 1.2 Trillion
Cubic Feet and Recognizing a 15 Trillion Cubic Feet Mega-Field
Complex, Columbus Basin, Trinidad.”
“In both Algeria and Trinidad there were barriers
to exploration,” Thomas said. “For Anadarko those obstacles were
technical and legislative. The Berkine Basin in Algeria was begging
to be worked. Explorers knew there were an active hydrocarbon system
and two world-class source beds. The problem was surface conditions
that made it difficult to image the subsurface — how do you shoot
through sand dunes?
“Anadarko successfully overcame that obstacle using
long cable arrays to acquire deeper images that showed subtle variations
in structure and dimension that was never imaged before,” Thomas
said. “This technological advancement, combined with a change in
Algeria’s hydrocarbon laws, made it possible to explore the opportunities.”
In Trinidad, BP stepped back and took a bigger picture
of a successful gas basin and with that new perspective made a huge
“I remember when I was looking at opportunities in
Trinidad when I was with Amoco several years ago,” Thomas said.
“By integrating the geology and geophysics to gain a more regional
view of the Columbus Basin, BP was able to identify how this high
amplitude prospect fit into the regional picture. That prospect
is the Iron Horse discovery.”
Location of these discoveries was not a factor in
organizing the session, according to Cunningham.
“The important criteria was size, because size does
matter,” she said, “and what other explorers can take away from
the success and apply to their own work.
“That’s not the point here,” she continued. “This
session is about the model of success and how it can be translated
to any location on any scale. It’s not about West Texas or the Canadian
Rockies or Algeria or Trinidad. It’s about bringing a successful
approach to a successful conclusion.”
“I hope people will view this session as an opportunity
to do that,” she said. “Too often people will look in the program
and see a paper on Algeria or Trinidad and think, ‘I’m never going
to have a chance to work in Algeria, so I’m not going to that session.’
Cunningham said the inspirational germ for this session
was planted at last year’s annual meeting, when BP officials presented
several papers on the Thunder Horse discovery in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We all feel this session will broaden the scope
of geological information disseminated at the meeting,” Thomas said,
“and that is the purpose of the annual convention.”