Highlights of the 2007 Annual AAPG Convention

Title: Highlights of the 2007 Annual AAPG Convention

Authors: Terri Olson, Donna Anderson, and Laura Wray

Publication: The Outcrop, June 2007, p. 32-33

Palm trees, sea breezes, fresh seafood-all were welcome attributes of the latest MPG annual meeting in Long Beach, CA, in April. Attendance exceeded 5300 people, including many students and newly hired young geologists.

The largest number of talks and posters centered around 3 technical themes: deep water reservoirs, stratigraphy and sedimentology, and reservoir characterization and modeling. Shale gas was a hot topic, with 2 oral sessions (20 talks) on mudrocks and shale gas, along with numerous posters. Presentations were more diverse than in past years, addressing the Woodford, Caney, Fayetteville, Wolfcampian (TX), Utica (NY), Mowry (WY), Niobrara (CO), Devonian shales (PA & NY), New Albany (IL), Mancos and Hermosa Group shales (UT), Floyd (AL), and Triassic and Cretaceous shales of British Columbia as well as the Barnett. Over 150 people attended the oral session on gas shales the last day of the meeting.

Veterans of many AAPG conventions remarked on the relatively large number of young people at the meeting. Student poster sessions were prominently located in the atrium of the convention center, generating lots of walk-by traffic and discussion. A standing-room only crowd attended the student reception, where student poster and Barrel Awards were presented.

This year was the first time the Imperial Barrel Award Competition was staged at the AAPG annual meeting. Universities from around the world were invited to participate. Teams were judged by a panel of industry experts on their presentation on the petroleum potential of a basin (different for each team). Scholarship funds were awarded to the winning teams. First place went to the University of Aberdeen, with Imperial College taking second; third place was earned by the University of Oklahoma. Students from the UK also swept the student poster awards.

Several first timers were struck by the large volume of talks on sedimentologic and structural modeling, many based on outcrop data, as well as the research on new frontiers such as gas hydrates. Some were surprised at how many familiar faces they encountered, from internships and academic contacts.

The All-Convention luncheon speaker this year was Michael Economides from the University of Houston, who provided a colorful analysis of the geopolitics of oil. Economides pointed out that realistically, we will be a hydrocarbon-consuming world economy for at least the next two generations, regardless of initiatives to develop alternative energy sources. Hence, governments that control large hydrocarbon reserves, especially those in politically fragile countries, will be key players on the world market.

The AAPG Bookstore had a number of new titles for sale, including the Geofamilies DVD produced by DreFilms (but primarily distributed by RMAG), new novels featuring geologists, and several CD’s in the Getting Started series (on elastic diagenesis by Kitty Milliken and on fluvial sedimentology by Frank Ethridge).

A number of posters served as focal points for the RMAG contingent:

  • D. Anderson and M. Carr: Modeling Crevasse Splay versus Point-Bar Bodies: Relative Roles in Characterizing Tight-Gas Fluvial Reservoir Sucessions
  • R. Cluff et al: Three Things We Thought We Understood About Shale Gas, but were afraid to ask …
  • C. Kluth: New Interpretation of the Paleogeography of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, Colorado
  • N. Sommer et al: Reservoir-Scale Analysis of Sandstone-Body Dimensions in a Braided Fluvial System, Upper Williams Fork Formation, Main Canyon, Piceance Basin, Colorado
  • B. Horn et al: Lower Almond Outcrops in Pine Canyon; Understanding and Predicting Reservoir Distribution and Geometry to Guide Infill and Exploitation Strategies in the Greater Green River Basin

One topic generating significant discussion was the significance of crevasse splay sandstone bodies to reservoir connectivity in fluvial systems, addressed H. Jones’ talk on styles of avulsion stratigraphy as well as the poster by D. Anderson (above). A similar theme was the focus of B. Willis’ talk on three-dimensional connectivity of channel point bar architectural elements, in which the author pointed out that we don’t have “tubes of sand” in such systems. Another hot topic at this year’s meeting was the set of issues discussed by K. Shanley in his talk on reconciling basin history, fluid saturations, gas shows and capillary pressure in low-perm sandstone reservoirs. Key questions raised by this talk and the subsequent discussion at the Unconventional Resources Research Committee meeting are:

1) Are estimates of “effective” OGIP and drainage areas adversely affected by conservative porosity cutoffs in these long-life reservoirs?
2) How can we discriminate between residual (immobile) gas saturations in an imbibition condition from original (potentially producible) gas saturations in uplifted basins?

Upcoming Meetings to Note
– Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG, Oct. 7-9, 2007, Snowbird, UT
– Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG, July 9-11, 2008, Denver
– AAPG 2009 Annual Meeting, Denver, June 7-10
– Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG, 2010, Durango