Southwest Section

Regions and Sections

AAPG’s Southwest Section exists to advance the science and profession of geology as it relates to the exploration for and development of petroleum, natural gas and other energy minerals in the southwestern region of the United States of America.

The region is home to the Fort Worth Basin, site of one of the hottest and geographically largest shale gas plays in the United States. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that there are 26.2 tcf of natural gas contained in the Mississippian-age Barnett shale.

The presence of gas in the Barnett shale has been known for many years, but recent high commodity prices and advances in completion technology have combined to make this a rewarding play. There are 98 rigs currently drilling the Barnett, and by the time the play is finished it may include 10 to 13 counties — most of which will have been shot with 3-D seismic.

Operators hope to duplicate the success of the Barnett shale in the Delaware Basin. Few completions have been attempted, but leasing for the Barnett and Woodford shale has been fast and furious.

The Permian Basin also is seeing an increase in activity due to the increase in product prices. Old established fields are seeing new drilling using technology for enhanced production. Horizontal drilling on the fringes of established fields has allowed operators to extend the productive limits.

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AAPG’s Southwest Section exists to advance the science and profession of geology as it relates to the exploration for and development of petroleum, natural gas and other energy minerals in the southwestern region of the United States of America.

The region is home to the Fort Worth Basin, site of one of the hottest and geographically largest shale gas plays in the United States. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that there are 26.2 tcf of natural gas contained in the Mississippian-age Barnett shale.

The presence of gas in the Barnett shale has been known for many years, but recent high commodity prices and advances in completion technology have combined to make this a rewarding play. There are 98 rigs currently drilling the Barnett, and by the time the play is finished it may include 10 to 13 counties — most of which will have been shot with 3-D seismic.

Operators hope to duplicate the success of the Barnett shale in the Delaware Basin. Few completions have been attempted, but leasing for the Barnett and Woodford shale has been fast and furious.

The Permian Basin also is seeing an increase in activity due to the increase in product prices. Old established fields are seeing new drilling using technology for enhanced production. Horizontal drilling on the fringes of established fields has allowed operators to extend the productive limits.

Lower volume formations like the Clearfork, San Andres and Sprayberry are seeing renewed interest.


The Southwest Section, AAPG’s third largest Section, has nine societies within its boundaries. They are:

  • Abilene.
  • El Paso.
  • Graham.
  • North Texas (Wichita Falls/Vernon).
  • San Angelo.
  • West Texas (Midland).
  • Fort Worth.
  • Dallas.
  • Roswell, N.M.

It contains major universities within its borders, including Baylor, Texas Christian, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at El Paso, Southern Methodist and Texas Tech, plus several smaller institutions.

The Section has 2,301 members, with 114 of those being students.

Twice a year (spring and fall) the Section offers a free short course to members — courses that are relevant to the region and well attended. Free short courses also are offered for registered participants at the annual Section convention.

The West Texas Geological Society holds an annual symposium in October. Last year’s symposium featured 30 speakers and 10 posters and had attendance of almost 500 professionals.

The Section rotates its convention among the societies, allowing each a chance to host. Convention proceeds are split 50/50 between the hosting society and the Section.

The Section has implemented a plan whereby every five years the annual convention is located in a city that is not the home of one of the societies, and the Section hosts the convention. A large portion of the proceeds from this convention are divided among all of the societies.

The Section also rotates its presidency among the societies. Candidates for president-elect are chosen from the society hosting the convention. If the Section is the host, the candidates are chosen from any of the societies. This allows maximum participation from the smallest of societies to the largest.


This year’s annual Section convention

will be held May 22-24 in Midland, Texas. Events are currently being finalized by convention chairman Bruce Swartz.

The meeting will commence on Monday, May 22, with a free short course. A golf tournament also will be held that day, with an icebreaker Monday night.

The technical program will begin Tuesday morning, with presentations by the AAPG leadership. Those presentations will include:

  • The John Emory Adams Distinguished Service Award, to Mike Party.
  • The Monroe G. Cheney Science Award, to Bob Hardage.
  • The A.L. Cox Poster Award, to Mark Vining.
  • The A.I. Levorsen Memorial Award, to Daniel Jarvie.
  • The Distinguished Educator Award, to Harold Beaver.

Technical sessions will be conducted all day Tuesday and Wednesday; an All-Convention Luncheon will be held on Tuesday, May 23, and a DPA luncheon is set for Wednesday, May 24. A social event is being planned for Tuesday evening at the Petroleum Museum in Midland.

Incidentally, the museum recently added a new wing dedicated to Jim Hall and his racing team, and the Section is planning a 1960s style car rally in the museum. You will be able to view a number of vintage cars as well as tour the museum while sporting your favorite Hawaiian shirt.

For more information about the Southwest Section log on to our Web site.

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