In April the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2014 the United States once again was the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas. The principal reason for this significant growth in production has been the development of unconventional
hydrocarbon resources, particularly shale oil and shale gas.
Unconventional resources have changed the exploration and production business and are changing our profession. It's a change for the better, where today geoscientists and engineers work closely to identify prospective areas, drill them and optimize recovery
of hydrocarbons from the reservoir.
A focus on developing integrated teams is not just for those firms targeting unconventional plays, but now permeates the entire industry.
And this emerging reality is what led AAPG, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists to join forces in 2012 to launch the first Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC).
The simple goal was to integrate the disciplines, bringing geologists, geophysicists, and engineers together at one conference to explore the spaces where the disciplines intersect, and how they fit together.
Last year more than 5,000 professional attended URTeC to do just that. And we are gearing up this month for the third installment of URTeC, this time in San Antonio, July 20-22.
The Organizing Committee, led by AAPG members Tom Blasingame of Texas A&M (representing SPE), Skip Rhodes of Pioneer Natural Resources (representing AAPG) and Gene Sparkman of Lumina Technologies (representing SEG), has developed a diverse technical program
that includes both play-based sessions and focus on applying technology to solve problems, including sessions on geochemistry, geomechanics, microseismic, well placement and optimization ... and the list goes on.
A principal issue with unconventional resources is securing public acceptance, and this year's program also includes sessions dealing with above-ground issues, such as social responsibility and groundwater protection.
Once again, URTeC has planned several plenary sessions and topical breakfasts and lunches, covering a wide array of issues. There also will be interactive panels and, of course, the exhibition with service companies and vendors showcasing the latest available
technologies to help you find and produce more oil and natural gas.
As geologists, we love to go into the field. But not all of our geophysics and engineering colleagues have developed this same affinity, so we've included several field trip options - ranging from Texas and New Mexico to New York and Alberta, Canada - to
give attendees the opportunity to look at rocks up close and to investigate analogs to the plays you are working on.
I'm excited about URTeC this year because the significant drop in oil prices in 2014 and the sustained low natural gas prices over the past several years demands that the industry respond with innovation and creativity.
How do you make money in this low price environment?
How do you improve your margins?
It's in these types of price conditions that operators have to zero in and focus on the details, trying new and different things. And that's perhaps the most important reason for you to attend URTeC this year.
We are creating an environment for learning, sharing of insights, and networking.
Come join us at URTeC later this month and explore ways you can be a more successful E&P professional.
It's a changing business - but our hope during the conference is to facilitate the learning and conversations that help you and your firm develop that innovative breakthrough that enables you to successfully navigate this difficult price environment.
I do have one request, though: When you have that insight, I'd ask you to consider coming back to URTeC next year and sharing it with others.
That's how we collectively advance our science and profession.
See you in San Antonio!