This month’s column concerns my recent trip to the SEG convention in Denver. For me, 2010 was another interesting trip to the big show, this year the theme was “Imaging Our Future”. Personally, my quest to image my own future involved attending talks focused on unconventional plays and thankfully I was able to learn something about the new processing and acquisition techniques and listen to a number of good case histories.

SEG Council Meeting: Motion to revise Bylaws does not pass

For Jon Downton, Larry Herd and I the convention began first thing Sunday morning when we joined the SEG Council for a pre-meeting meeting to prepare us for the afternoon’s big council meeting. Jon and Larry were travelling for their businesses, while the CSEG was looking after my expenses. The three of us had actually got together the week before to talk about the issues and to make some plans. This is the 3rd SEG Council meeting I’ve attended, and this year was by far the most significant.

The SEG has a few significant governance problems and after hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of discussion over the past couple of years, the governance committee proposed more than 130 changes to the SEG bylaws. The changes are so large that they amount to tossing out the old bylaws and coming in with new ones. Amongst other things, the most important goals of the new bylaws were; (1) to clearly state that the Executive Committee and not the council runs the SEG; (2) to extend the executives length of service from one year to two, just like we do in the CSEG; and (3) to expand the SEG council from 9 to 17 elected members. The bylaw changes would have removed influence from the council and turned the council into something similar to a shareholders group.

People can get emotional when they lose influence, even ineffective influence such as the SEG Council has had. There are slightly more than 100 council members and in my experience only 50% to 60% of the council is actually able to attend the annual meeting. I’m not slighting any single council member; there are some very well prepared members who put lots of effort into council, but most members are like me and prepare for the meetings as if they were members of the board of a corporation. A week or two before the meeting we review the material, discuss it amongst ourselves, and come prepared to make some decisions. The problem is that corporations do not have 100 members on their boards and corporate boards meet more than once per year.

Passing the new set of bylaws required a 2/3 vote from amongst the 59 members present. Micki Allen from KEGS joined Larry, Jon, and I and the four of us voted for the bylaw change. I spoke for the change and even after using all my charm, wit, and eloquence, the motion still failed! After all those hours of preparation, discussion and debate, the motion failed by a single vote. When the dust settled, there were 39 votes for the new bylaws and 20 against.

At first impression almost everyone would vote against any motion reducing their influence, so why were we for it?

We decided that the bylaw changes were needed to solve the SEG’s most pressing governance issues. The governance issues could be addressed in other ways, but passing the bylaws now would allow the SEG to move forward right now. The new bylaws were a solution to the SEG governance problems and represented a step forward into a society with more careful management and more planning ability.

The SEG Council is worthwhile, but its best attributes come from being a forum for geophysical societies to meet and learn from each other. The council is a good networking group, but in its present form, it is not a good governing group. With the new bylaws not being passed, it will be at least another year before the SEG can expand its executive group and begin working with more capabilities and influence. That’s not entirely bad news. The SEG is a pretty great organization right now and this entire issue about the bylaws not changing means that the SEG will remain the same great organization into the near future.

SEG Forum: A group hug for Unconventional Gas, but what about Canada, Eh?

The convention started off Monday morning with a discussion panel on Unconventional Gas. Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bill Ritter, Jr. Colorado’s Governor were on the panel as well as James T. Hackett, Chairman and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum, and Jeffery L. Venture, President and COO of Range Resources. Rutt Bridges, Chairman of Transform Software and Services moderated the session.

I was impressed that the SEG convention drew the attention of these two prominent politicians. Both Salazar and Ritter seemed informed about our industry and interested in our success. In fact, in the past five years the unconventional gas business has had a lot of success. If the growth in US shale gas production continues at its current rate, then the US will be a net exporter of natural gas within four or five years. That thought left me concerned about the future of Canadian gas exports to the US.

US gas production might not continue to increase though. The panellists agreed that with a price of less than $4 per mcf almost all shale gas in the US is not profitable. In fact, most shale gas drilling activity taking place right now is being done simply to hold the mineral rights, even though the projects are not profitable with the price less than $4.

James Hackett and Jeff Venture agreed that the role of geophysics in a low price environment is to high-grade the resource play. The fluids rich shale gas plays are profitable and geophysicists need to be able to show which parts of the reservoir would be fluid rich.

To my mind, that means we geophysicists need to be proficient in the new geophysical developments. In the future, we will need to highlight the principle stress fields and fracture networks that control fluid flow and accumulation. I’m trying to bone up now. It seems to me that the future is in learning about rock physics and multi component and multi azimuth seismic. Hopefully, an old dog like me will be able to learn the new tricks required to profitably exploit these unconventional plays!

SEG Challenge Bowl: Canadian Champ places second in a field of nine

I’m pretty easy to recognize at a Challenge Bowl and I stayed true to form at this year’s final event in Denver. The Canadian team from the University of Western Ontario gave us lots of reason to talk with their performance where they placed second in a field of nine regional champions. In the third round it was University of Wyoming against the University of Western Ontario with Wyoming taking an early lead. Near the end of the round our champs mounted strong comeback, but they ran out of time and questions and never caught up to Wyoming. Our Canadian team performed well and left me feeling proud of their knowledge and ability to think under pressure.

SEG President’s Ball

For me the SEG convention ended with Tuesday evenings Presidents Ball and Jam Session as I returned to Calgary on Wednesday. My photo with President Steve Hill and incoming President Klaus Koster will provide me of good memories of the 2010 SEG Convention.

CSEG Website : Change your usr and pwd

Here’s a small but interesting item. I’ve just noticed that after logging into we can now change our user name and password. For the past few years, my CSEG member card has been in my wallet so that I can retrieve my six digit member number in order to log in. Gone are those days! We can now create a user name that we can easily remember. Perhaps I’ll leave my CSEG member card in my dresser at home.

Those are my thoughts on another busy month. Please give me a call if you want to talk about the CSEG.



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