The Southwest Section Convention sizzled in the Fort Worth heat in late June, marking the first in-person section convention since the pandemic, and attracting a larger than anticipated number of geologists and geophysicists. Southwest Section organizers were thrilled with the large number of on-site registrations resulting in sellout ticketed events at the Radisson Fort Worth meeting site.
“More than a year ago, in 2020, we had no way of knowing how absolutely perfect the Southwest Section convention timing of June 2021 would turn out to be for people working the Fort Worth and Permian Basins,” Jessica Wold, Southwest Section president (2020-21), remarked during her opening comments. “There were many planning twists and turns along the way. Still, I am thrilled about the convention we have been able to put together overcoming 2020 uncertainty and global pandemic.”
“The name of this convention, ‘Awakening to a New Era,’ fits the new year in both a literal and metaphorical way,” recounted Margaret Collins, Southwest Section general chair. “We in the industry need to look at things in a new light and in a new way of doing things.”
The event started on June 26 with an all-day K-12 Earth science teacher workshop held at the OIL. Jeff Daniels of Presidio Petroleum discussed his road guide to Pennsylvanian-age outcrops west of Fort Worth while fossil collecting in Mineral Wells, Texas. Before the convention, Rick Sarg, professor at the Colorado School of Mines, presented an all-day free seminar called “Sequence Stratigraphy and Reservoir Characterization in Mixed Systems- Applications to the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Regions.”
Richard Denne guided a new approach to the technical talks, which switched seamlessly between speakers appearing “live” on Zoom feeds to the in-person audience, taking questions through Zoom chat while maintaining the traditional convention format of introducing speakers in the same room as the audience. About 10 speakers from the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology appeared to the audience via zoom from remote locations, some in other time zones. Representatives of the BEG State of Texas Advanced Resource Recovery Permian and Gulf Coast study consortium presented technical research introduced by BEG leader Lorena Moscadelli.
The Southwest Section Fort Worth meeting featured some outstanding speakers. AAPG President Rick Fritz talked about “career pivots” and “paying attention to the really big things.”
Reese Parker of Ameridev was optimistic about improving oil prices and job prospects in his talk, “The Roaring ‘20s.” Karr Ingham of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers explained the economic models for oil and gas demand, posing cases for both foreign oil price concerns and U.S. optimism for profitability in the near term.
The Super Basin Special Session organized by Bill Fairhurst of Riverford LLC, offered both a high-level basin overview and a deep dive into the stratigraphy of the Permian Basin. Bob Lindsay spoke about detailed Permian stratigraphy and successful production from carbonates and sandstones. Andy Pepper presented cutting edge geochemical and basin evaluation of the Permian Basin while Bill Fairhurst outlined which petroleum systems are economic at different price scenarios. Tom Ewing clarified how early Precambrian basin tectonics influenced today’s Permian age fields.
Social and Networking Highlights
Networking at the convention hotel included student poster sessions and a career seminar led by Heather Anderson, formerly of XTO, and now a career advisor helping geoscientists retool their skills and resumes. Trey Cortez of Burnett Oil Company organized the exciting Southwest Section social evening at the Whiskey Ranch in downtown Fort Worth. The Whiskey Ranch activities included a taco truck, whiskey tasting, a drone demonstration and a group photo with an iconic view of the buildings in downtown Fort Worth from a hilltop location.
Student poster sessions included research from University of Texas-Arlington, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University and UT-El Paso.
The Fort Worth Geological Society will be donating proceeds from the convention to scholarships to geology students, and funds will go to present free Earth and environmental science continuing education classes for local science teachers in elementary through high school.
“Conferences are a way to expose students to the industry and provides them an avenue to network with working geologists, so I am glad to see experienced professionals interacting with student poster sessions,” said Collins.
“We have come out on the other side of 2020 with a new perspective and determination to keep moving forward. I am proud of how we have all continued to support each other as a community because we understand the value in each other,” Wold said at the closing of the Southwest Section convention.
Upcoming Section Meetings
The success of the Southwest Section is just the start of a series of important upcoming section conventions for AAPG. At the conclusion of the new combined AAPG-Society of Exploration Geophysicists annual convention, the International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy, or “IMAGE,” in Denver, Sept. 26- to Oct. 1, the Mid Continent Section presents its annual meeting in Tulsa, Okla., Oct. 3-5. Then, the Eastern Section meets Oct. 2-6 in Pittsburgh, Pa., and the Gulf Coast Section “GeoGulf” becomes the final section meeting of the year in Austin, Texas, from Oct. 27-29.