This September, the AAPG, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) will combine for a new conference, the International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy, or IMAGE, in Denver, Colo. This will be a live and virtual meeting for the energy sector.
Jim Reilly, astronaut and past director of the U.S. Geological Survey, will be the keynote speaker for the Division of Environmental Geosciences and the Energy and Minerals Division. Plan to attend and get the latest from our DEG technical sessions.
DEG under COVID-19
We had a virtual year of Zoom meetings. All of the sectional, national and regional meetings were cancelled. Awards and talks got thrown into the heap of confusion. On top of that, we are trying to boost the profile of DEG by combining publications under the AAPG standard. Olga Popova, DEG editor, has been working with Bob Merrill, AAPG editor, to combine the Environmental Geosciences journal with the AAPG Bulletin. Bob pointed out that the DEG papers will get a much better exposure to the petroleum industry. Olga has already given Bob the current batch of papers. Bob said that he plans to have special issues of the Bulletin dedicated to the environment. My thanks go to Olga Popova and Bob Merrill for their work on the combined journals.
The Future and Jobs
The petroleum industry has changed and is under attack. Many want to stop production of carbon-based fuels. There is a logic to this if we look to the future. Right now, the oil we use for fuel is not replaceable. That means that when it is gone, it is gone.
Should we be burning hydrocarbons? Will we not need these very hydrocarbons to make a multitude of products in the future? If so, why burn it?
The answer is that petroleum is abundant and cheap. That will change. We need to sustain energy production and fill the holes in the current alternative energy industries like solar, wind turbines, geothermal and advanced batteries.
This does not mean oil industry jobs will be eliminated. They will just change. Using California as an example – oil operations are under attack to be eliminated. Operators are being forced to shut down. The goal is to reduce oil production and eventually eliminate it.
In an earlier column, I pointed out that this creates new jobs for geologists to abandon all these wells in an environmentally safe way. What I’ve seen is the regulatory agencies beefing up their staffs and geologists joining up with engineers to abandon these unprofitable wells. These same geologists can work in groundwater. Water districts, water boards, sanitation districts and barrier projects provide good jobs for people with petroleum backgrounds. Environmental companies and geotechnical companies are good places to work.
We must remain aware that these changes will take time and we need a healthy infrastructure while we make the Switch. The cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline will hurt both Canada and the United States. The Colonial pipeline shut down just recently hurt the eastern United States badly. It was costly and dangerous.
Past DEG President Francois Merechal points out that geothermal areas may provide heat for energy use and brines for lithium extraction. Carbon capture, use and storage and the Regional Induced Seismicity Collaborative are still big issues along with the Water Resources Management System, which sets standards for water as a commodity. Robin Anthony, a member of the Eastern Section who serves on the DEG Advisory Board, has been closely following the CCUS issues for DEG and we support an economy-wide deployment of CCUS. DEG President-elect Miriam Winsten plans to pursue joint activities with other societies like the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the American Geosciences Institute and SEG to better inform us on the major environmental issues. Maybe we need a sustainable energy competition to spur on new development.
Please consider joining us as a member of one of our committees. Please contact Autumn Haagsma through AAPG.
Vice President Chris Walker, Secretary Tim Duex, Secretary/Treasurer have done a great job keeping the DEG meetings on track. I thank them for their service to our profession. Thanks to Diane Keim of AAPG for running down all of our problems during this difficult time. Thanks to everyone who worked on the DEG Executive Committee, the DEG Advisory Board and DEG committees. There were 20 of us.
Please be safe and stay well.