Africa 2019 review
In early October, the PESGB / HGS Africa conference was back in London: “smarter, better,stronger” than ever. Some 600 delegates gathered at the Olympia in a buoyant and positive mood to enjoy two days (plus) of research on African geology and the latest on African activity.
The conference, now in its 18th year, has established a reputation for strong and relevant technical content, attracting a diverse mix of academics, consultants, service companies and operators, and offering a unique opportunity for networking.
The conference kick-started with a specialist technical workshop on the variations in heat flow, fluid flow and magmatism across the continent in both space and time and the implications for source maturation and reservoir diagenesis. The experienced panel of speakers from service companies, consultants and operators (Duncan MacGregor, Helen Doran, Tiago Cunha, Roger Baudino, Christine Yallup and Nick Cameron) ensured that this was a very well attended event, drawing the largest ever audience to an PESGB Africa pre-conference workshop. Discussions continued through the evening, as participants benefited from the icebreaker event in the Hilton Olympia Ballroom which provided an extra opportunity to network and an early glance at some of the posters. Again, this was well attended, as those that had participated in the speed networking event boosted numbers beyond the committee’s expectations. and Unfortunately ‘fluid flow’ was a problem as the beer ran dry! The heart and soul of the PESGB Africa conference is, and always will be, the technical programme. The consensus was that this year’s offering was the best ever. The number of top quality abstracts submitted made the job of Technical Chair, Helen Doran, and her committee very hard. They had to turn away some really good offerings, but the structure and content of the resulting programme of presentations was widely applauded by delegates.
This year’s conference was opened by Dr Adiyaman Lopez of UNESCO, who highlighted their focus on both Africa and her team helping early career geoscientists. UNESCO programmes in Education, Science and Culture seek to help lift the third world out of poverty.
Building on previous years, this year two full parallel sessions offered delegates the choice between technical deep dives in the main auditorium and regional overviews, data first looks or updates on African activities in the workshop sessions. The venue also had plenty of space to display the excellent data-rich posters, which were organised geographically for ease of access.
One highlight of the program was the back to back views presented by Shell and Exxon surrounding the enigma of the origin of East Africa gas. The talks captured the ethos of the conference, companies willing to share data to generate new ideas and fuel unanswered questions on subjects that have puzzled the geoscientist for years. Once again, the depth and insight of knowledge coming out of research in academia was impressive, a group of papers looking to unravel source to sink and establish provenance across NW Africa providing the framework for any future exploration efforts in the region. Long may this fruitful link between academia and industry continue. The conference also reminded us to go back to sound regional work, a beautiful example presented on unlocking the Cretaceous turbidite play in Niger and Chad. There were some great new discoveries there for our colleges in the industry press to report on. Delegates will long benefit from the technical insight provided at the conference, via the hard-copy full colour abstract volume and the online-digital extended abstracts. Thanks to those who were very generous with the knowledge and data shared.
There was a busy and worthwhile trade exhibition, with 40 companies and organisations represented this year. It was great to see more African participation than ever before, this included governmental delegations from Benin, Gabon, Madagascar, Namibia and Sierra Leone. A big thank you to the sponsors and exhibitors; their invaluable support helps underpin not only the conference, but our society itself. Thank you to the PESGB & exhibition management team who put the event together and the very valuable guidance of the organising and technical committees of eminent volunteers drawn from the membership. Finally thank you to the authors, delegates and their supporting organisations, for sharing and collaborating at this event to help drive forward research, knowledge and profitability.
The conference closed, as always, with the awards for the best presentations, this year under the watchful eye of the new Chair of Judges, Richard Blight of Shell. To present the prizes we were delighted to welcome Professor Iain Stewart, known to many for his BBC TV documentaries, such as ‘Planet Oil’. Clare Glover (ExxonMobil), Felicia Winter (TGS), Michael Bourne (CNOOC International), Sigrún Stanton (Halliburton) and Max Casson (University of Manchester) took the honours.
All this was offered by the PESGB (a not for profit organisation) at a deliberately low-cost. The objective is to maximise the benefit to all members, to our science and to our business.
PESGB Africa Chairman