By the time you are reading this I hope you have attended your first virtual AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition – ever! What a success it was, with up to 10 concurrent sessions including talks and posters. Our own Claudia Hackbarth and Mike Bingle-Davis chaired a session on the future of oil and gas and Bill Ambrose chaired one on expanding energy frontiers to Earth, the moon and Mars. A new format was offered with live presentations and interactive panels that were moderated and conducted by experts in their fields.
I chaired a session on “What’s New in Energy Minerals,” which was part of a new session format called “Tackle the Issues” in which six of our nine Energy Minerals Division technical committee chairs showcased highlights of their invaluable work, including tight oil and gas, uranium, gas hydrates, coal-bed methane, heavy oil and energy economics.
Energy Transition and Energy Poverty
Chairs of these committees contribute their extensive knowledge in their fields with annual reports showcased on the EMD website (AAPG.to/emdcommittees) and now in the form of latest developments through talks and presentations. One of the highlights was the EMD/Division of Environmental Geoscience talk by Dr. Morgan Bazilian from the Payne Institute of Public Policy at Colorado School of Mines on geopolitics of the coming energy transformation. In fact, across the entire meeting there were quite a few sessions that addressed the energy transition. A few questions and concerns were raised on how the oil and gas industry fit into the energy transition, how we are proposing to fuel the transition, and how to meet energy demand with lower greenhouse emissions.
A concurrent theme is energy poverty, which needs to be addressed in much of the under-developed world. Furthermore, much of the transition to cleaner energy might be accomplished by replacing coal with natural gas and uranium (nuclear power)! In addition, hydrogen, among many other energy sources, is a versatile decarbonized partner for fossil fuels and renewables and may be produced by electrolysis from natural gas where various technologies might be able to handle the carbon component (carbon capture and production of black carbon are currently being developed).
Another interesting suggestion was to change abandoned wells to geothermal wells to supply energy.
It seems like changes need to happen across all sectors of economic activity!
Another big headline last month, feeding right into EMD’s mission, was the announcement by BP (and other majors followed) that they are going to heavily invest in alternative energies to reduce emissions, scale up renewables and invest more in low carbon to become net zero by 2050
These investments also include LNG, an indispensable enabler of the coal-to-gas energy transition reducing carbon emissions at a global scale. Our committees at EMD have been expanding and adding new committees to alternative energies such as geothermal, gas hydrates and helium. I am very proud to be part of such a forward-looking group of scientists at EMD.