PESGB May 2007
President’s Page- Stephen Pickering
H. G. Wells is famous for many science fiction novels, such as “The War in the Air” and “The First Men in the Moon”, which accurately predicted future events. But did he predict peak oil I ask! Well he was also a historian and in 1920 wrote – “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe”. Of course, we all know the race we run as geoscientists, is the one to extend peak oil and find new and alternate sources of hydrocarbons, because if we do not then the consequences could be catastrophic. Education and training then are critically important to our industry if we are to avoid the future catastrophe lurking beyond peak oil.
Historically there have been close ties between the PESGB and Imperial College London, and recently I attended the annual “Barrel Awards” at Imperial, one of the more enjoyable tasks required of the President of the Society. The Barrel Award is a team prize given as part of the M.Sc. Petroleum Geology to the best assessment of petroleum resources in a frontier basin. I never managed to discover whether the Barrel Award refers to a barrel of oil or a barrel of beer, although my personal experience is that most geology students are equally adept at finding either.
Listening to the excellent presentations I recalled my own post-graduate studies a decade after first graduating in Geology. The science of stratigraphy had radically changed with new theories
and knowledge; including sequence stratigraphy, chemostratigraphy and seismic facies analysis, subjects unheard of in my days as an undergraduate. This recognition that knowledge has a “sell by” date reminded me of the importance of continuously developing professional learning and skills throughout our careers.
The PESGB also recognises the importance of education, and if we are to find new resources in previously “explored” basins then education is critical to providing new insights; despite whatever anyone tells you it is not a matter of luck or intuition. Education in the scientific and technical aspects of the petroleum industry for the public benefit – and what greater benefit than deferring peak oil – is central to the Society’s charitable status. So I am extremely pleased that this month the Society will host a two day course in Aberdeen on Sequence Stratigraphy given by Vitor Abreu. This AAPG course is sponsored by ExxonMobil. I hope we will be able to offer many more similar events in conjunction with other professional societies in the future. Whilst on an educational theme, this month the PESGB is also co-organizing Devex and running a field trip to the Cheshire Basin, well done and many thanks for everyone who has contributed to these events.
Historically the PESGB ran its own training courses through a joint venture with Imperial College and the Geological Society known as Japec. It is not our intention to return to this business model but we recognize that we should respond to specific member needs when they are not provided for in the commercial training sector. With this in mind Steve Cannon, Director of Education, is currently working hard to launch a 4 day course on petroleum basins of the UKCS. The Society is making a substantial investment in this course and hopes to run it several times in 2008, I hope you will support it.
By the way, H. G. Wells also wrote “The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow”, possibly he was predicting what future generations may think of our current fixation with peak oil in the years to come.