EAGE 2019 London: Embracing Change - Creativity for the Future of Oil, Gas and Energy
The 81st Conference and Exhibition of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) celebrated a revived oil and gas industry while looking ahead to a society which will no longer be carbon-based – but will still need the skills of geoscientists.
The conference, which was held in London in the first week of June 2019, started with the traditional Opening and Awards Ceremony, where a panel of senior oil company managers debated ‘the role of oil and gas in the energy transition era and beyond’. The panellists were asked to identify their key messages from this discussion, which they summarised as the following: market volatility will continue and needs managing; climate change is for real, so we all (not just in the O&G industry) need to work together to reduce demand and increase alternative energy sources; the future will offer many opportunities for growth, and for new business models and partners, driven by the fast pace of change in technology; and finally, we should ensure that future geoscientists are trained for this new and different energy industry.
These themes resonated throughout both the conference and exhibition.
The Future of Energy
Three further panel discussion-style forums were held during the course of the conference, all of which were on themes related to the opening debate. On the Tuesday morning, a panel that included four industry CEOs and a climate scientist from British Antarctic Survey debated how to deliver the world’s low carbon energy needs, while in the afternoon a mix of representatives from oil and service companies and academia looked at the ways the roles of geoscientists and engineers were evolving in the changing energy and technology landscape. Both of these are important and very relevant topics, with plenty to discuss.
The third forum talked about new technologies in geoscience and engineering - a broad topic - with this panel featuring representatives from traditional exploration and service companies alongside ones representing the new technologies offered by Google and IBM, enabling a wide range of views and thoughts to be debated.
It is interesting to note that this conference also marked the launch of a new EAGE ‘special interest community’ devoted to decarbonisation and energy transition. This is a network for EAGE members that is dedicated to promoting knowledge and developing skills among geoscientists and engineers working with decarbonisation and energy transition technologies, including CO2 sequestration and the advancement of renewables such as geothermal energy production. About 50 people attended the inaugural meeting and it will be interesting to see how this develops.
‘Looking to the future’ as a theme was also included in the conference talks, with sessions on deep learning, high performance computing and digitisation, along with the more traditional subjects such as reservoir modelling, seismic and geophysical techniques and petroleum systems.
New Technologies in the Hunt for Energy
The EAGE exhibition is always a great place for the showcasing of new technologies, and this year was no different, with a number of companies taking the opportunity to demonstrate their latest developments, many of which involved the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to speed up routine processes. There was a dedicated Digital Transformation section in the exhibition hall for companies with this specialisation, centred around a small presentation space where some fascinating talks were given, covering topics ranging from the future of Full Waveform Inversion to lessons for geoscience which can be drawn from deep space.
There was also a Start Up Area in the exhibition, backed up by its own small presentation space, for companies full of ‘disruptive ideas’ who were looking for investors as well as customers. The U-Pitch Theatre offered additional options for new ideas to be presented.
An inkling of the future was demonstrated through the IGLOO experience: an igloo-shaped structure, about six metres in diameter, where you could step into a 360° virtual reality experience with wraparound sound and vision, allowing you to travel on – and fly around – a seismic vessel or explore an oil field. Great fun, and you can see the uses for such technology in the industry, from virtual field trips to simulator training.
EAGE 2019: An Excellent Event
There was, as ever, plenty for students and young professionals to encourage them in their careers, from the annual GEO Quiz, where teams of university students are challenged to show their geoscientific knowledge and skills, to motivational speeches and trial interviews. There were also the finals of the Laurie Dake Challenge, which aims to promote cross‐disciplinary geoscience and engineering integration within universities using real subsurface hydrocarbon datasets; and the inaugural Minus CO2 Challenge, in which teams use a similar dataset but plan to develop the resource with zero net emissions of CO2.
There were, of course, a number of other celebrations and events throughout the event, including GEO ExPro’s 15th birthday, which you can read about here: https://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2019/06/happy-birthday-geo-expro.
With more than 1,000 technical oral and e-poster presentations, a technical exhibition with over 350 exhibitors presenting many new developments in the upstream geosciences, and about 7,000 people from almost 100 different countries attending, the EAGE organisers and committees can congratulate themselves on an excellent and successful event.