In any debate a historical perspective is useful since it tells us where we were and how we got here. It does not necessarily enable predicting the future. The ever changing oil price and the ups and downs of seismic exploration are ideal examples for looking into the past and guessing about the future.

In June 2014 the oil price began its plunge from $107 to $50 by December. The slump continued through 2015 to $38 in August and $33 in January 2016. This resulted in dramatically reduced exploration activity and increased corporate downsizing, as usual. Such collapses are not new. Since 1980 there have been three others which have had similar devastating effects on the Canadian oil and gas industry. In each instance seismic exploration has been amongst the first tier of budget cuts.

There have also been two global “oil crises” in the latter part of the twentieth century. In 1973 the price escalated rapidly when it was controlled by OPEC in an initial attempt to establish a market price, and it further escalated in 1979 with the Iran-Iraq war. Canada was not yet self- sufficient, oil appeared to be headed to $100/bbl and an anxious Liberal Government introduced the ill-fated National Energy Program (NEP) in 1980.

This presentation will review the history of the oil price from 1860 till the present and identify some of the key controlling factors. In addition, the focus will be the oil industry in western Canada and the impact of the ever changing oil price. Several historic seismic milestones will be examined in the context of the oil price of the day. The finale will include a few seismic musings in hindsight and attempt the impossible, namely, make some predictions about the future.



About the Author(s)

Dr. A. Easton Wren received a B.Sc.(Hons) in Geology and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. His professional experience includes positions with Ray Geophysical Company in Libya, the United Nations in Uganda, Amoco Canada and PanCanadian Petroleum in Calgary. He founded Petrel Consultants, has been an Independent Consultant, a former Director of BowLeven PLC., and is recently retired as Exploration Vice President and still a Director of Americas Petrogas Inc., a Calgary company with oil and gas operations in Argentina and a large potash/phosphate project in Peru. He is also on the board of International SoftRock Oil Company with assets in Arizona and Cameroon.

Dr. Wren has lectured at U.S. and Canadian universities and has presented industry-oriented courses in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, S.E. Asia and Australasia.

He was President of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG) and received Honorary Membership. He is the author of several published papers on seismic processing and interpretation and is a past editor of the Journal of the CSEG.

In 1987 he was the Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and is an active member of SEG, CSEG, and APEGGA. He was the producer and host of CFAC-TV Calgary’s “Science Spectrum” documentary program.



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