It poured the night before. Oil prices plunged to anorexic levels on the previous Friday. And conference organizers, were neophytes, when it came to masterminding and executing the largest convention of its kind in Calgary for the last century. Never before had a joint convention been held , culminating the efforts of three technical societies – the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists and Canadian Well Logging Society. And just to keep everyone on edge, Geo-Triad '98 which was held June 16 to 19, 1998 took place away from Calgary's downtown core – at the facilities of The University of Calgary, Olympic Oval and neighbouring Energy Utility Board Core Facility. But the powers that be must have been listening.
With the theme of Rocks, Risk and Rewards, Geo-Triad '98 exceeded expectations. While event co-ordinators prayed for break even at 3,000 participants, they were elated when more than 5,000 showed up. Weeks after the event, people were still trying to sort out the business cards they had collected.
The primary focus of the event were the 278 plenary, oral and poster format technical presentations. But even those technically-challenged were somewhat enlightened from the plenary sessions, keynote speeches, Geo-Fair, Core workshop, or at any of the three social events.
The plenary sessions, which were held at U of C's Jack Simpson Gymnasium, kept on score with the theme of Rocks, Risk and Rewards. The topics picked the presenters' brains, with guidance as to what strategies the petroleum industry may be plotting into the next millenium. In one morning, Houston-based geologist Dr. Edward Clifton from Conoco lnc., U of C's geophysicist Dr. Larry Lines and Houston-based log analyst Dr. Brian Clark from Schlumberger, shared their perspectives on what theories and technologies were coming of age to geoscientists.
Day two of the plenary sessions threw in a cocktail of risk, concocted by political, economical and environmental factors. Honorable Steve West, Alberta's Minister of Energy, drew the media's glare with his opening remarks on his Kyoto experiences. He exposed the possible repercussions of the green house gas emissions agreement on the petroleum sector. Kevin Brown, managing director of ARC Financial Corp. in Calgary, tackled economic indicators, commodity risk, equity markets and their consequences. Denver-based exploration geologist Michael Wilson correlated El Nino weather patterns and temperatures to that of natural gas pricing. A self-proclaimed El Nino expert for the past three years, Wilson forecasts brighter times ahead as El Nino's wrath shall soon be blowing in the wind. And to balance things out things, environmentalist Mike Sawyer and Don Downing, president of the Canadian coal association shared their points of view.
The third and last day of the plenary sessions, praised the reward of corporations, projects and individuals, as shared by prominent industry professionals. Harvey Smith, president of Mobil Oil, spoke of the trials and tribulations on developing the Hibernia Field – a saga that sees victory for survival of the fittest. Matthew Brister, president and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Resources Ltd. shared how a vision for an petroleum company was created and made into reality.
Brister cautioned wannabee oil finders of the fine balancing act required to maintain production while managing cashflow. Mergers and acquisitions amongst the oilpatch was on the agenda for Warren Holmes, managing director of First Energy Capital Corp. Human resource specialists Ron Caputo from William Mercer Ltd. and John McKay from O'Callaghan Honey Inc. discussed the issue of corporate loyalty vs. employee benefit and compensation trends. The afternoon for the Reward plenary sessions was divided amongst gas soothsayers and oil gurus. Both keynote speakers drew record crowds. American futurist Harry Dent and author of The Roaring 2000's, proclaimed that the next millenium, until the year 2009, would see growth by gangbusters.
"People drive our economy" says Dent, who cited repeatedly how the baby boomer generation has controlled the North American economy. He urged managers to consider adopting a bottoms up management philosophy of networking, which is being facilitated by revolutionary internet technology. "Computers are doing the management so managers need to solve the people's problems."
While Dent was entrenched with the rituals of the modern world, Canadian anthropologist Dr. Wade Davis, delved into cultures as far removed from Calgary as possible. His eloquent speech, entitled "The Light at The End of the World" brought delight and wonderment, as he shared tales about tribes in Borneo, South America, and Tibet, but begged us to respect the fragility of our existence.
Geo-Triad's participants were brought closer together in the exhibition area – matching buyers and sellers, teachers to students. No better location for the opening Icebreaker than the thawed out Olympic Oval. While the brew flowed freely, the 200 exhibitors spread out amongst the 400 booths gave rave reviews on the sleek architecture of this 150,000 sq. ft. venue.
Here, industry's latest technology was flaunted. There were static, dynamic and inter-active displays, as well, as ongoing mini presentations and the usual gamut of draws and souvenirs.
There was a wide range of geophysical software being presented, dealing with data retrieval and archival, seismic processing, and data interpretation. Computer hardware, telecommunications, geographic information systems, wireline instrumentation, recorders, networks and satellite systems were all part of the show and tell.
The theme of integrating numerous technologies to determine an optimum solution was evident amongst exhibitors. Synertech Ltd. pushed its capabilities of core digital imaging, petrological studies, and integrated reservoir engineering studies. The internet was coming of age, as Enernet Technologies Inc. introduced its data brokerage service for seismic data. And keeping emerging technology under the wraps was difficult for Houston-based I/O as their prototype graphical workstation was on display, with hopes of becoming the smallest, fastest, most flexible product of its type with high channel capacity.
Exhibitors came from near and from afar. Cuban and Columbian representatives from Colombia were in search of financiers and Petrosys, an Australian-based mapping software company was represented by its American affiliates.
Geo-Fair which was held on the campus' parking lot 10, held live presentations of well drilling, well logging and seismic acquisition of a 3 component 3D seismic. Contractors were on hand to demonstrate their equipment, too. On exhibition were everything from the Australian developed seismic Wombat drilling machine to helicopters, explosives to downhole logging tools, wireline equipment, vibrators and all-terrain vehicles. Geo-Fair also proved to be entertaining. First place for the vibrator pull contest went to Geo-X Systems and prizes for amateur and professional jug hustling went respectively, to Geco and Arcis Corp.
The Core Workshops brought reverent discussions on rocks, while the Student Tour brought some bright-eyed faces for a look at Geo-Triad. Flo Reynolds, student tour chair and onsite consultant for Landmark Graphics, assigned 10 tour guides to take around the 70 junior high and senior high students. Some 180 schools were invited to participate earlier this year. Students came from Calgary-based schools Senator Riley, Sir John A. Macdonald, and Bishop McNally, while some drove in from Elnora. For the students, confronted by their school term exams on the same day of the tour, the hassle was worth the effort. The value they received from participating in Geo-Triad, was on par from everyone who attended, too.
In Search of Excellence - Technical Papers
Under the guidance of Bill Goodway, co-chair of the Technical Committee and geophysics advisor at PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd., a team of 16 CSEG members helped scrutinize 222 technical papers and 37 posters that generated 37 worthy sessions. Goodway liaised with Howard Pitts, CSPG representative and David Curwen, CWLS representative. This year, the task was more daunting, considering the logistics of arranging the sessions at venues scattered throughout the U of C campus.
The onerous task of evaluating the papers was not taken lightly. Countless hours were spent and meetings were inevitable. Officially, there were 278 papers in tow, including 19 plenary papers, 104 technical papers and seven posters directed towards geophysicists, 44 geology- and 26 well logging-related technical papers, and 30 other posters. Goodway's committee was comprised of John Bancroft, Andrew Boland, Andy Calvert, Peter Cary, Scott Cheadle, Dave Chown, Dave Cooper, Tor Haglund, Gordon Holmes, Helen Isaac, Mike Jones, Fotis Kalantzis, Denise Poley, Vladan Simin, Mike Slawinski and Rick Wallace.
Some of the trends noted this year, says Goodway, included international case histories and the integration of geology and geophysics. Eight of the 37 sessions included integrated geophysics-geology sessions, on topics, such as, the East Coast and Foothills regions, reservoir characterization, and economics and risk.
"Geophysics was fairly directed towards interpretation emphasis, as opposed to technical geophysics, like seismic processing," says Goodway. "There was emphasis on interpretation techniques, AVO and lithology prediction, advanced 3-D interpretation, inter-active workstation visualization and time lapse seismology."
Regarding traditional geophysics, new concepts presented included a new method for vibroseis seismic acquisition known as high fidelity vibratory seismic (HFVS). There were interesting papers about the pitfalls of AVO lithology prediction and extracting lithology, including Lamé parameters, from seismic data.
Anisotropy was a significant and popular topic amongst the papers, especially, with improved solutions for imaging Foothills structures and key in four sessions, such as, seismic imaging, anisotropy and migration, anisotropy workshop. Says Goodway, "Anisotropy is ongoing but is increasing in popularity for its ability to solve these problems."
In the area of seismic processing, new ideas were shared with nonstationary filtering, resolution beyond temporal Nyquist, and incorporating AVO effects into sparse radon transforms. New ways were presented on ray parameters and modelling of complex features. Nonstationary filtered was also being applied to anisotropic migration, elastic modelling and inverse Q filtering.
This year, 20 awards were presented for excellence in technical papers Best overall paper went to Life on the Curve: Experiences in Venezuela by Dan Krentz et al from Noreen Energy Resources Ltd.; Best CSEG General Paper went to How Could You Possibly Predict the Value of 3D Seismic Before You Shoot It? By Kim Head of Veritas DGC Inc.; Best Integrated Geology and Geophysics Paper went to The structural style and seismic image of thrust related folding in the southern Canadian Cordillera by Paul MacKay of Northstar Energy Corp. and Best Student CSEG Paper went to Comparison of structural imaging in anistrophic media using P-wave and S-wave data by M. Graziella Kirtland Grech et al from the University of Calgary.
Other award winning papers were Exploring in the shadow of a supergiant, Hassi Mesaoud, Algeria By Jason Nycz et al, Practical anistrophic depth imaging by Ron Schmid et al, Anistrophic true-amplitude migration by Tong Fei et al, Migration in the equivalent offset domain by Peter Cary, Migration in the compressed data domain by Jack Bouska et al, Inversion of nonstationary filters by Gary Margrave, Blackfoot 3C-3D, a new interpretation of the compressional and converted-wave data by Jocelyn Dufour et al, Seismic reflection near critical angles by J.B. Gallop et al, Structural Style Variations in the B.C. Foothills by Mark Cooper, From Non-commercial to Commercial, Horizontal Drilling in the Fractured Triassic Carbonates of the Boulder Field, B.C. Foothills by Mark Cooper et al, Seismic Data Acquisition and Processing using Measured Motional Signals on Vibrators by Keth Wilkinson et al, Image mispositioning due to dipping T1 media: A physical seismic Modelling Study by Helen Isaac et al, AVO Attributes by Guillaume Cambois, An Overview of The Venture Field, Offshore Nova Scotia by David Neill, and Structure and Development of the Thebaud field offshore using 3D Seismic by David Miller et al.
As the party ended at the Core Meltdown, the last glasses of beer were drunk and everyone parted their merry ways. The speedskaters returned to the Oval while the students returned to U of C. Still, Geo-Triad's spirit of academia and industry lingers on with three legacy items – a 3D seismic survey, a shallow geotechnical test hole and fiber optic cable throughout the Olympic Oval.
With industry's imperative to find more cost effective petroleum finding and production solutions and the need to hire the best trained geoscientists, some 26 sponsor companies pitched in their time, goods and services to erect the legacy items. Platinum sponsor Shaw Fiberlink Ltd., was followed by silver sponsors, Simmons Drilling and Dowell Schlumberger. On the legacy items, U of C's geophysics professor, Robert Stewart, sees value for geology, geophysics and hydrogeology students, "The 3-D survey is important for developing a high-resolution sub-surface survey in an urban area. We're pretty excited about the preliminary interpretation."
The 3-D seismic survey was a team effort. The 3-D component equipment was provided by Veritas DGC, vibrators by NRC Engineering Ltd., processing by Apoterra Seismic Processing Ltd. and recording by Geo-X Systems Ltd. Mario Santos, field service technologist with Geo-X was in charge of running the survey and liaising with the other sponsors to bring onsite the essential $2 million worth of equipment and services. Nine persons assisted Santos, which took four days to prepare for and time for troubleshooting, while the survey was conducted between 7:00 am on Monday, June 15 to 4:30 am, Tuesday, June 16. A mini-vibrator sent out signals for various four, six and eight sweeps ranging between 8 to 120 hertz. The actual test grid measured 320 meters by 220 meters, housing 1990 geophones or 660 items. While a typical seismic survey calls for spacing every 50 meters, the U of C site called for spacing every 8 meters.
Visitors were greeted by an organized maze of equipment, quads, cables, phones and batteries. Geo-X operated the software and acquisition system. There were 16 lines running and a total of 469 shots were taken. That was enough data to fill forty-eight 3840 cartridges.
"It looked fun when you visited us," recalls Santos. "But what we've been through is a totally different story." A major rainstorm, city traffic and noise from the neighbouring Simmons drilling rig, accounted for about 60% of the noise in the data that made up the "city seismic". Likewise, Simmons Drilling worked under challenging conditions to drill the shallow geotechnical hole. For 10 days, a Simmons rig and crew worked alongside a Poco Petroleum drilling engineer and Dowell Schlumberger staff. An underlain gravel bed with underground water flows precluded the team in drilling much deeper than 60 meters, considerably less than the 250m depth planned for. The project cost exceeded $200,000. "It was unfortunate that there was limited resources to complete the project. Had we had the likelihood, it would have been great benefit to students," says Bob Parkyn, sales and marketing manager for Simmons Drilling.
Still, their efforts were not made in vain. According to U of C's Stewart, there's been value in the rock cuttings and the discovery of underground waterflows, which will be of interest to hydrogeologists. Stewart intends to run logs and vertical seismic, too.
During Geo-Triad, visitors to the site caught glimpses of Simmons $1.6 million innovative modular shallow field rig, which demonstrated being set up and operational within three hours. While the rig was utilized for conventional drilling, it also has application for directional, horizontal and air wells.
The third legacy item, lurks beneath the floors of the Olympic Oval and will provide the high-speed communications pathway for future conventions to come. It was at the 1997 CSEG convention that Rod Hall, product manager for Shaw Fiberlink in Calgary, spoke to Geo-Triad's organizing committee, when he realized that there were no connections at the Oval to provide exhibitors with the required bandwidth 10 megabits per second. In the four days leading up to Geo-Triad, Shaw's team replicated a network management centre, just like its downtown location. Fiber optics running at 155 megabits per second was fast enough to deliver the data and internet connections for 14 exhibitors this year. Powered by CISCO systems, the $200,000 fiber optics cabling and connections remains unseen in tunnels underneath the Olympic Oval. The $75,000 investment on Shaw's behalf was worth it, concedes Hall.
Teamwork at its Finest – Behind the Scenes at Geo-Triad'98
For all the change and technology that the next millenium ushers towards us, some things still stay the same. Human relationships still count. Such a phenomena was evident at GeoTriad. Some 200 volunteers on 18 committees unconditionally offered their time and services to create one of the city's most talked about convention. The budget for the four day event tallied up to $1.5 million. For geophysicist Doug Uffen, geologist Jim Reimer and well logging analyst Winston Karel, their lives were instantly changed when they agreed to be part of GeoTriad's steering committee, a little over two and half years ago. At first, they pitched in an extra 50 to 60 hours monthly, but weeks prior to the event, unimaginable time was expended with full support of their families and employers.
Of crucial importance to the committee's success was special advisor, Monty Ravlich, executive vice-president and general manager of Tucker Wireline Services Canada Inc. Ravlich wowed the team with his ability to bring the sponsors together and quickly. That job called for rounding up about 100 platinum, gold, silver and legacy sponsors. Platinum sponsors included Alliance Pipeline Ltd., Canadian Seismic Rentals Inc., Computalog Ltd., Geo-X Systems Ltd., Mark Products, Olympic Seismic Ltd., PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd., Remington Energy Ltd., Request Seismic Survey Ltd., Schlumberger Oilfield Services, Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., Tucker Wireline Services Canada Inc., Veritas DGC Inc., and Western Geophysical.
Uffen, chief geophysicist for Canadian Forest Oil Ltd. just can't say enough about the support he received from his family, his present and previous employer Boyd Petro-Search, "Canadian Forest supported the costs of international phone calls, rush couriers, boardroom meetings."
Personal exposure and recognition were some of the benefits that Uffen garnered during his two year-plus term, but the greater satisfaction has been giving back to the CSEG. "We had a great team and it's our hope that we've done something of impact to benefit our three societies and delegate membership."
As part of their job of being on the steering committee, Uffen, Reimer and Karel also liaised with any of the 18 sub-committees. Reimer, who by day is vice-president of exploration for Encal Energy, says it's very fulfilling to work with volunteer team groups, "They (volunteers) are very motivated to work with and you have to listen to everybody's ideas. Perhaps, it takes a bit longer to complete the task. But in many ways, there's similarities to managing volunteers and the corporation. The prime objective is to get people to do the best job they can. In the corporation, there's pay and compensation. With volunteers, there's recognition with keepsakes, like western-style shirts, barbeque aprons and mousepads."
Karel, a well log analyst with Amoco Canada Petroleum Company Ltd. and the CWLS past president, admits that everybody put in more time than anticipated. "With three professional societies working together, there's so many different personalities. The more people you have involved, there are more differences of opinion, but no ideas were cast out," he says. "You have to learn how to integrate with people, learn how to network. But you get to meet executives and scientists from all over the world and the world is shrinking. So in this (petroleum) business, you've got to know them." It was the efforts of Karrie Kreutz, events co-ordinator of The Olympic Oval, Peter Frasier, U of C's director of ancillary services who were the fulcrums that pulled everything off the event for Geo-Triad's campus venue. U of C's Keith Mills, supervisor for classroom services, was pivotal in the success of the audio-visual co-ordination. Continual change amongst volunteers came with the territory. The Continuing Education Committee Chairperson changed batons three times, first with Charle Gamba of Canadian Occidental Petroleum, followed by George Pinckney of Mobil Oil and then by Bob Parker from Veritas DGC Inc.
Geo-Fair committee members U of C's Eric Gallant, and Outsource Seismic Consultants Inc.'s president Gordon Johnson parlayed the move of Geo-Fair from back of the northwest corner of the campus to parking lot 10 with less than 30 hours notice.
The kudos to volunteers is endless. Randy Hughes from Paramount Resources and Gerry de Leuuw from Northstar Energy placed the plenary session and keynote speakers. Credit for staging the Ice Breaker goes to Kathleen Dorey from Sheehan Energy and Heather Chiovetti from Olympic Seismic Ltd. Shelley Moore from Samson Canada Ltd. staged the Core Workshop, while Tim Byrd from SCG Ltd. presented the Core Meltdown.
Special mention goes to Mike Ames, the chief geophysicist with Koch Exploration for taking care of special arrangements. Barb Young from Highland Technology Inc., a two times Exhibitor Committee Chair along with her team of four, turned the speedskating Oval into a full-fledged convention centre. Young liaised frequently with Terry Symington of Panex Show Services Ltd. It was a five-day move in, followed by a 30-hour move out.
In the weeks to follow GeoTriad, the volunteers proceeded to decompress their adrenalin glands, while CSEG's office manager Heather Payne and registrar Susan Beireling, breathed a sigh of relief that things had returned to a sense of normalcy. At least for now, until next year's convention.