Geoscientists and industry leaders throughout the world are preparing for the International Conference and Exhibition 2022, AAPG’s flagship international event taking place in Cartagena, Colombia, April 19-22. Held for the last time in Buenos Aires in August 2019, ICE returns to Latin America after a three-year break imposed in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For AAPG Latin America and Caribbean Region President Federico Seminario, hosting a global event is both an honor and an opportunity for the region.
“ICE is AAPG’s most important international event, and each year it continues to grow both in prestige and quality. The event gives geoscientists from all regions of the world the opportunity to interact and share new studies, technological advances and research,” he said. “This conference also allows the AAPG to demonstrate its role as a global organization, expanding its borders and providing a space for geoscientists coming from outside the Americas.”
The Perfect Locale
The event is a boost to all geoscientists in Colombia, said Enrique Velásquez, former president of both AAPG LACR and the Colombian Association of Petroleum Geologists (ACGGP), AAPG affiliated society and event host. Velásquez represents ACGGP on the organizing committee, overseeing local programs, including field trips and short courses. He noted that Colombia is a good destination for people who are ready to start traveling to in-person events.
“COVID-19 cases have dropped dramatically in Colombia, and we are almost back to business as usual. We have a nearly 80-percent vaccination rate, and the population has been good about wearing masks and observing social distancing practices. We are working with the Cartagena Convention Center to follow health and safety protocols that keep attendees safe, and we will have an on-site testing facility for participants who need PCR or rapid tests to travel home,” he said.
In addition to a safe environment for attendees, Colombia’s historically pro-business culture provides a welcoming environment for industry professionals.
“There are many opportunities in Colombia right now – from National Hydrocarbon Agency (ANH) bid rounds, to new business, mergers and acquisitions,” he said. “This is a great time for people to come to enjoy one of the most beautiful cities in the Caribbean, to renew their network after the pandemic, and to meet people that they haven’t seen since 2019.”
Seminario said that Cartagena de Indias, a port city located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, provides the perfect setting for a long-awaited return to in-person events.
“We have great expectations for an in-person ICE after having a long and unexpected two-year lockdown caused by the COVID pandemic,” he said. “Many of us have reinvented ourselves through work at home and virtual meetings, and we look forward to gathering to share what we have learned, to explore new studies and advances in science and to interact face-to-face with the presenters and other attendees.”
This year’s ICE features a completely in-person technical and business program, with selected recorded sessions provided on-demand following the conference.
A Proven Track Record
Held for the second time in Colombia, ICE 2022 builds on successful conferences hosted in the Latin America and Caribbean Region over the past decade.
The 2013 ICE brought 2,000 people from 51 countries to Cartagena, while ICE events held in Cancun in 2016 and Buenos Aires in 2019 attracted 1,000 and 1,500 attendees, respectively.
Carlos Macellari, AAPG Member and ICE 2022 technical program co-chair, has formed part of the organizing committee for events held in Cartagena, Cancun and Buenos Aires.
“I am a geologist by vocation, and passionate about exploration. Being part of ICE committees is a great opportunity to help, together with other fellow geologists, to advance and disseminate the knowledge and state of the art technologies that impact in our industry,” he said.
Macellari worked with co-chair Tomás Villamil to develop a technical program with eight session themes: Petroleum Systems, Stratigraphy and Sedimentology; Structural Geology, Tectonics and Geomechanics; Offshore Exploration and Production; Geophysics; Unconventional Resources
Energy, Society and Environment; Critical Minerals for Energy Diversification and Geodata Science and Artificial Intelligence.
“I am very impressed by the quality and scope of the presentations, Macellari said. “I believe that the break in meetings during the COVID pandemic, helped to accumulate a series of high-quality work that now will be shared in this event.”
The conference theme, “Geoscience and Innovation to Fuel the Energy Future,” highlights the region’s energy future and offers a global, interdisciplinary look at the advances and discoveries at the vanguard of the energy industry.
In addition to the technical program, ICE Cartagena features the following business development sessions:
- Regulator Forum, hosted by ANH President Armando Zamora, with participation from presidents of regulatory agencies from Brazil, Mexico and Suriname
- NOC Forum, hosted by Ecopetrol Group CEO Felipe Bayón, with participation from Staatsolie and YPF CEOs and executive management from Petrobras
- IOC Forum, including presentations from senior vice presidents from Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, Equinor and TotalEnergies
- Special Country Sessions, highlighting industry trends and investment opportunities in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Mexico, Peru, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago
- International Pavilion, featuring stands and presentations featuring energy opportunities throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa
Macellari said the committee has worked diligently to develop a complete program that will help attendees maximize their time in Cartagena.
“ICE resents the unique opportunity to see a large and diverse number of excellent presentations,” he said. “After the pandemic, this brings the possibility to meet again with colleagues, exhibitors and to advance potential business.”
Seminario agreed that the business sessions represent an important component of the ICE program.
“Though the technical sessions are very important, and the topics are well distributed, the sessions I personally find most attractive and informative are those featuring discoveries, ideas and new plays,” he said. “I also look forward to attending the country sessions to stay up to date with what is happening in the region, and other sessions related to sustainability issues, since we all know that the only way to continue operating in the industry is in a responsible way, coexisting with nature and society.”
ICE Cartagena 2022 also includes special sessions dedicated to sustainable development in energy, female leaders in industry and startup company success stories, luncheon sessions highlighting the energy transition and solutions for energy poverty, as well as networking and professional development activities for students and young professionals.
Investing in Future Leaders
Seminario said that ICE allows young geoscientists not only to learn from, but also to share their work with the broader geoscience community.
“AAPG’s Latin America and Caribbean Region has grown a lot in recent years, and it is represented mostly by young professionals and students. They are the ones who are leading the new ideas and plays in our diverse super basins, and that makes them in an integral part of the exploration and development of fields. ICE provides the perfect setting for them to present their ideas and discuss them at the highest level at this showcase attended by the world’s leading private and state-owned companies,” he said.
Immediately following the ICE, AAPG LACR will host its annual Student-Young Professional Chapter Leadership Summit, a three-day intensive training event that will include personality profile assessments, skill development in communications, teamwork and critical thinking and seminars in ethics and volunteer leadership. Summit participants apply through a nomination and application process, and those selected have their travel and event expenses paid. Summit participants commit to sharing best practices from their chapters with other event attendees and to sharing information learned during the event with their home chapters when they return home.
Like ICE, the 2022 Summit has a global reach, and for the first time ever, organizers invited participants from YP chapters in AAPG’s international regions and the United States.
“We are happy to have 18 students and young professionals representing 12 countries in our Summit this year,” Seminario said. “They’re coming not only from the Latin America and Caribbean Region, but also from Europe, Africa and United States. We are excited about the opportunity to share best practices with other regions.”
The 2019 Student-YP Leadership Summit held after ICE Buenos Aires was a life-changing experience for Gabriel Wilkinson, a Central University of Venezuela student from Caracas who attended the event and has been on-fire for AAPG ever since.
“I learned so much from my summit mates, from every speaker and manager. It was a dream come true,” he said. “Every talk and session had its essence, and the knowledge we received as a group is worth gold.”
Since attending the Summit, he has started four student chapters in Venezuela, organized four in-person and 124 virtual lectures and helped to run the LACR Imperial Barrel Award competition. He currently serves as the Visiting Geoscientist Program coordinator and co-chair of student activities on the ICE 2022 Organizing Committee.
Wilkinson will fulfill both roles as co-chair of the Visiting Geoscientist Program Symposium, a session featuring technical, leadership and sustainable development talks from AAPG President Gretchen Gillis, Vice President of Regions Elvira Pureza Gomez, AAPG LACR President-Elect Xavier Moonan and AAPG members Antonio Velasquez and Rafael Aguilar.
He said ICE presents a unique and enormous opportunity for young geoscientists to interact one-on-one with experienced professionals from all over the world.
“At ICE, geoscientists of all ages and experience levels to spend time together and share perspectives with a global petroleum geology network,” he said.
“This will be my first ICE and my first in-person event after two years,” he said. I can’t wait to join an environment full of professionals working together seek new alliances, opportunities, and networking.”
Making the Effort to Attend
Traveling to Cartagena is easier said than done for Wilkinson, whose home country of Venezuela is wrought with economic challenges and political turmoil.
In a country where the official salary is $30 per month, the majority of AAPG members living in Venezuela have resigned themselves to staying home this year.
Wilkinson said he made up his mind early on to overcome all barriers needed to attend.
“I started focusing on the target when I saw the first ICE 2022 (announcement) published on social media,” he said. “I started to organize my time, work more and apply lessons learned during my volunteer service.”
He developed a letter of support and sponsorship brochure patterned after those used for AAPG LACR events and distributed the document to companies and colleagues in Venezuela.
He found a friend in Colombia to make his online registration payment by credit card and signed up to be an ICE volunteer so he can earn cash for hours worked and pay her back in Cartagena.
Wilkinson’s efforts paid off, and one month prior to ICE Wilkinson obtained sufficient financial support to cover his flight, hotel, transportation, meals and COVID testing required for travel.
He expressed gratitude for the friends, colleagues and relatives who helped him achieve his goal.
“At the end of the day, I am not alone because there are many people supporting me and motivating me to continue achieving my dream,” he said.
Calling All Attendees
With his travel plans set, Wilkinson is determined to encourage as many people as possible to join him in Cartagena.
“Everyone has difficulties, challenges and responsibilities, but if you articulate and develop plans with enough time, there will be no one to stop you,” he said.
“There is still one month left to decide if you are joining us or not, so remember there is no better place to carry on learning and training petroleum geology and energy fundamentals than Cartagena this year,” he said.
To learn more about ICE or see the program visit ICEEvent.org.