RMAG Hosts AAPG-COGA Natural Gas Summit

Title: RMAG Hosts AAPG-COGA Natural Gas Summit
Authors: Matt Silverman and Ron Pritchett
Publication: The Outcrop, October 2004, p. 7-8

RMAG hosted a joint meeting of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG in Denver, August 9-11. The 2004 convention was the first ever to combine an AAPG section meeting with COGA’s annual Rocky Mountain Natural Gas Strategy Conference and Investment Forum.

The meeting’s theme, Sound Science – Smart Business – Energy Summit was coined to recognize the synergy in bringing together the executives and financial officers (COGA) with the geoscientists (RMS-AAPG). “This interaction is the best way to help all of us realize the abundant energy potential of the region,” said Randy Ray, the RMS-AAPG General Chairman.

The meeting was planned deliberately to deliver variety and value. In the technical program and poster sessions (chaired by John Robinson and Brian Richter, respectively), attendees could choose from a rich blend of ideas on “hot” plays now being developed. RMAG members accustomed to a technical focus at the regional AAPG meetings were also able to sample presentations on the commercial trends and strategies that are contributing to a heady atmosphere in the oil-and-gas-patch.

RMS-AAPG photo_Final
General Chairman Randy Ray enjoys a visit to the RMAG booth.

RMS-AAPG bankrolled the technical portion of the meeting, and RMAG (as host society), as well as the other affiliated societies within the Rocky Mountain Section, will profit financially from it. The monetary success for these organizations was due in large measure to corporate generosity, according to Jeanne Harris, Chair of the Sponsorship Committee. “Over $100,000 was donated for the RMS-AAPG portion alone. This great support from long-time sponsors really gave us the ability to bring so many scientific and business leaders together for the conference.”

Approximately 2,100 people attended in total, and about 64% of the attendees were from Colorado. Texans were the most numerous visitors (89%), followed by guests from Wyoming (27%), and the other Rocky Mountain states. Seventeen people slipped across the border from Canada, and three came all the way from Australia.

The field trips and short courses were a mixed success. Well-attended courses included “Low-Permeability Core Petrophysics and Reservoir Assessment,” led by Alan Byrnes; and “Resource Potential of Shales – a Core Workshop,” led by E.R. “Gus” Gustason and Bradley Sageman. Twenty-nine people participated in the popular field trip, “Stratigraphic Architecture and Reservoir Characteristics of the Mesaverde Group, Southern Piceance Basin,” led by Steve Cumella. On the other hand, seven trips and four courses were cancelled due to insufficient registrations, continuing an established trend of declining interest in these activities.

Meeting highlights included presentation of the RMS-AAPG 2004 Teacher of the Year Award to William Christiansen of Salt Lake City’s East High School. His enthusiastic remarks brought the audience to its feet. Fred Meissner’s explanation of Rockies gas potential to COGA business leaders was also received very warmly. In the COGA Conference Session titled “Looking for Moby Dick (The Next Jonah Field),” Ray Thomasson, Gary Stewart, Steve Sonnenberg and Bill Armstrong urged an enthusiastic crowd to recognize the huge value that can result from wildcatting.

Sessions on the role of gas in the future of world energy and on the role of the Rockies in the future of North American gas enjoyed standing-room crowds. Diverse viewpoints that were presented by representatives of the environmental, academic and political communities, as well as the industry, enlivened several of these sessions. Fred Julander, the COGA Conference Chairman, said, “Several people told me that the opportunity to hear all these perspectives in one place was very enriching. The blending of these cultures added to the vibrancy of the meeting.”

Keynote speakers included Scott Tinker, the Texas State Geologist; Denver Mayor (and recovering geologist) John Hickenlooper; and Bobby Shackouls, President and CEO of Burlington Resources. All spoke to packed lunchtime auditoriums on the growing importance of the Rockies as a source of natural gas for an increasingly energy-hungry society.

No one went away empty-handed, as attendees filled their conference tote bags with new publications, a complimentary CD with extended abstracts of the technical talks, and loot from the 160 exhibitors. Two icebreakers and a buffet lunch in the exhibit hall meant no one left unrefreshed, either.

As part of the joint meeting, COGA ran its annual sold-out golf tournament. This year a Sunday morning tee time was added, especially to provide the RMS-AAPG golfers an opportunity to get out on the greens. Golf Tournament Chairman Jeff Ware noted that the wonderful weather, great food and plentiful prizes made winners out of all the golfers – regardless of scores – who played Red Hawk Ridge over the two days.

Conference Chairman Ray said, “The contacts and ideas that spin from a conference like this are valuable far into the future. Everyone who was involved in planning, presenting and attending this meeting can be pleased with the results. The fact that we are able to coordinate a joint meeting like this shows the upbeat spirit of the Denver energy community.”

As an indication of the success of the joint-meeting concept, discussions are already underway for another RMS-AAPG meeting with COGA in Denver, possibly as early as 2006 or 2007.