E&P in Asia-Pacific Revisited
Apparently, there has not been an E&P conference and exhibition dedicated to the Asia Pacific region in London for something like 20 years, so the SEAPEX/PESGB Asia Pacific E&P Conference, held at the end of June in the Olympia Conference Centre in West London, was well overdue. Organised jointly by the Petroleum Society of Great Britain (PESGB) and the Singapore-based South East Asia Petroleum Exploration Society (SEAPEX) – the first time these two organisations have worked together on a conference – the event attracted nearly 350 delegates and more than 20 exhibitors, in addition to a number of companies with stands offering farmout opportunities. Delegates came from all over the world, with many European organisations taking advantage of the chance to learn about the area without onerous travel, as well as to advertise products and expertise pertinent to the Asia-Pacific region.
New Ideas & New Opportunities for E&P in Asia-Pacific
Production has been declining in South East Asia in recent years, partly because many major oil companies have either dropped out of the area or reduced their overall spending and involvement. One speaker pointed out that there has been a 20% drop in the number of projects participated in by majors in the last two years – but that in turn means that there are plenty of opportunities available in a region with an estimated 119 Bboe of remaining resources.
SE Asia: A Geologically Complex Region
South East Asia is reputed to be the most geologically complex region on Earth, so there is plenty to learn about! It is also complex politically and fiscally, with a wide range in the ease which companies find in working in the various countries. After an interesting introductory session which set the scene geologically and historically, about 25 presentations covered the Asia Pacific area, region by region. Some of these took a very broad-brush approach – for example, Peter Lunt’s talk describing a new direction for Asian stratigraphy, or Robert Hall’s discussion on sediment provenance in South East Asia – while other speakers gave a more localised talk, such as an explanation of the Central Burma Depression or the implications of the Xanadu discovery in Western Australia. A session was devoted to discussing how new and improved technologies, from seismic to full tensor gradiometry, can be used to enhance exploration in the region.
Farming Out in the South China Sea
The special farmout sessions, which were run concurrently with the technical sessions, were well attended, with over 20 presentations, some of which described countrywide opportunities presented by the relevant licensing authority, while individual companies offered single farm-outs and the specialist M&A organisations proposed a variety of openings.
One Asia Pacific country which seemed sparsely represented, both in delegates and presentations, was China, although there was a session on the South China Sea. As part of this, Bill Haydon from Chatham House gave a stimulating talk on the politics of the area, with particular emphasis on the shifting territorial claims and the political and military might China uses to enforce those claims. He has recently written a book on the subject, which was presented to all the speakers and which, if his presentation is anything to go by, would be an informative and entertaining read.
Networking in Oil & Gas
Technical Presentations & Young Professionals
A number of poster presentations - prominently displayed in one of the exhibition halls near a refreshment area, rather than hidden away in a corner as is often the case – were by students and young professionals, and that demographic was quite well represented in person too. A networking lunch was organised for young professionals, and there was a special YP panel session that discussed the challenges and opportunities in the large scale exploitation of gas in the Asia Pacific region. I was a little confused as to why this was designated an event for young professionals, since it is a topic which was of interest to many delegates, as was shown by the number of attendees, the majority of whom would not be really fit the description 'young'!
Socials & Catching Up
Other networking events included the icebreaker pub session on the evening before the conference started, which, judging from many of the conversations going on around me, was a great chance for people who hadn’t met for a number of years to catch up. There was also a drinks reception and quiz at the end of the first day and a pub crawl to conclude the conference on the second day. A three-day field trip, led by Andy Racey, to the classic, well-exposed Jurassic-Cretaceous outcrops of the Wessex Basin on the south Dorset Coast, a designated world heritage site, was also on offer.
An Overall Success
And, of course, there was the World Cup! Interested delegates were assured that a screen would be set up and anyone who wanted to could watch matches live, which proved popular.
In fact, it was rumoured that a number of people resident in South East Asia only made the trip to Europe to the conference because it allowed them to watch the World Cup in real time.
Maybe this promising new collaboration between the PESGB and SEAPEX will become a quadrennial event?