AAPG conference celebrates unconventional plays: Black Swan that is producing black gold


AAPG conference celebrates unconventional plays: Black Swan that is producing black gold


PITTSBURGH – The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) opened its 2013 annual conference and exhibition with a tribute to unconventional plays that have transformed America’s energy landscape.

The decision to hold the first-ever conference in Pittsburgh itself is a recognition of the growing importance of the Marcellus shale play in Pennsylvania that has become a major contributor to the U.S. production of natural gas and liquids.

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In his presidential address, AAPG President Ted Beaumont referred to the rise of the unconventional plays as a Black Swan event, a high-impact development that is surprising, and yet has retrospective predictability. He also identified the discovery of the world’s largest oil reserves in Saudi Arabia as a past Black Swan event that defied conventional thinking.

Beaumont lauded the role of geologists in helping lead the development of unconventional gas and oil resources that the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects will enable the U.S. to become the world’s leading producer of oil and gas by 2020. Beaumont contrasted this development against the prediction of David White of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 1919 that the world would run out of oil in three years, and M. King Hubbert’s peak oil theory that had gained traction during the early 2000s.

A major segment of the AAPG opening session is devoted to the presentation of the annual awards. The Sidney Powers Memorial Award was presented to Dr. Dietrich H. Welte, professor emeritus of Aachen University. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Welte urged an a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to basin analysis and a nonpolitical, scientific evaluation of the role carbon dioxide plays in global warming. 

Dr. Stephen Sonnenberg, professor of petroleum geology, received the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award. William Zagorski, Vice President of Exploration for Range Resources, received the Norman H. Foster Outstanding Explorer Award. Beaumont referred to Zagorski as the “father of the Marcellus shale play”.

Top honors for the Imperial Barrel award, an annual competition in evaluating prospective basins featuring top graduate students in the world, went to the University of Utah team.

The AAPG conference continues until May 22 with technical presentations, exhibit and luncheon presentations, including the Michel T. Halbouty lecture and the Discovery Thinking series.



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