Celebrating 25 Years of PETEX
Review by Tracey Dancy, Dancy Dynamics
Having written several reviews of PETEX – each better than the previous one (event not review!) it’s becoming difficult to come up with new superlatives. As the Director of Marketing for PETEX as well as the incoming Council Member responsible for the Magazine, I feel beholden to do PETEX 2014 justice, but I can’t really go much further than to say it was quite simply the best ever.
Numbers across the board were up – delegates, sponsors, presentations and exhibitors – a tribute to the hard work of the PETEX Organising Committee and the PESGB team who have managed the transition from Earl’s Court to ExCeL extremely well, in spite of the early groans of dismay from the industry at the concept of PETEX in the Docklands instead of the equally inaccessible Kensington venues of recent years. In fact, speaking to delegates and exhibitors alike, it seems that ExCeL is for the most part a positive move, not least for access to modern hotels and a variety of transport links.
The main technical programme was once again wide-ranging and a full of interest, and for a lot of the time had standing room only. Keynotes on the first day – following introductory remarks from Guy Elliott, Executive Director of the PESGB and Oliver Quinn of Ophir, current PETEX Chair – included talks by Sir Ian Wood, Leader of the UKCS Maximising Recovery Review and author of the Wood Review, Richard Herbert, COO of BP, Alastair Milne, VP of Exploration for Sub-Saharan Africa at Shell, Jon Erik Reinhardsen, CEO of PGS and Oonagh Werngren, Operations Director of Oil and Gas UK and current President of the PESGB.
New this year we had the Etches Collection, supported by the PESGB and very popular both on the booth and at the excellent talks on Tuesday afternoon. It’s a fantastic story of “real” geology, and of great interest both to experienced geologists and to complete beginners alike. I hope that the relationship with Etches continues, and we have the opportunity to see them in 2016 for an update on the new museum venue.
Also new this year was a Data Management stream, with a top level look at professionalisation, rules and the importance of good data management in risk avoidance. Speakers included Malcolm Fleming of CDA, Trudy Curtis of PPDM and Paul Duller of Tribal, who has led the Data Management SIG for the PESGB for a number of years. Copies of the presentations, along with others from the technical conference will be available on the website shortly. Thank you to all those who took part, we hope this is the first of many such streams at PETEX.
Returning again to PETEX was the 3D Visualisation Theatre, sponsored by Barco and Schlumberger. This area proved very exciting as the sponsors brought some very exciting new technology to showcase actual case studies of a number of different solutions in the market today.
Day Three included several PETEX seminars, again a new concept for the event. The PESGB YPs hosted a seminar for all delegates, but focused on young professionals, while a second session looked at geophysical challenges for unconventional plays, as an extension to the PETEX Forum which was the focus of the morning (more on that later). The third stream looked at reserves and petrophysics for reservoir modelling. Again, our thanks go out to those who gave their time and energy to putting these seminars together.
The PESGB and PETEX Organising Committee would like to extend our grateful thanks to the Technical Committee, headed by Ricki Charles of Shell and Hamish Wilson of SLR Consulting, for the sterling job they have done on pulling together a very complex programme.
The Collaboration Conference played an important part in this year’s event too. Much work is done “behind the scenes” with universities and academia collaborating with the industry, and a lot of vital work goes unrecognised. The PESGB is delighted to be able to host the collaboration conference for another year, working together with their committee to include the programme within the PETEX experience as a whole.
Day Three has become a magnet for students from across the country. The PESGB supports many students at MSc level, enabled to do so by the success of PETEX and the income generated. The Student Lunch once again proved popular, with students able to move on to the YP seminars in the afternoon (not to mention the Treasure Hunt and the Sundowner…..!). Also popular with students was the Graduate Career Fair and University Forum – again a reflection of the PESGB’s focus on supporting MSc’s through to a career in Oil and Gas. A more open plan layout than 2012, it was good to see the area busy with delegates not just on the Thursday but during the earlier part of the exhibition.
The PETEX Forum is becoming known as an opportunity to look at current challenges, without being afraid to present both sides of a discussion. In 2012 the forum focused on Social Licence to Operate, and this year the sticky subject tackled was the technical feasibility and potential of UK shale gas, which given the recent onshore licensing round proved to be both topical and very popular. Hamish Wilson and Professor Iain Stewart of Plymouth University, also known for this BBC programmes on geology, ably chaired a discussion between Iain Bartholomew, John Blaymire of iGas, Ken Cronin of UKOOG and Al Fraser of Imperial College, as each passionately put forward their own views of whether hydraulic fracturing was technically and economically viable. It was refreshing to hear a debate about shale that didn’t focus on politics, though it is often hard to separate the two. One attendee commented that the forum was “fantastic…by far the highlight of PETEX”. Certainly it contributed to transforming the final day of the conference in to something very interactive, thought provoking and informative. Our congratulations and grateful thanks to Hamish and all those involved in bringing this lively debate to PETEX.
Networking is often seen as the most important part of attending PETEX, and as usual the social programme gave plenty of opportunity to meet new people and catch up with old friends. For Exhibitors it was refreshing to see the exhibition floor busy for most of the time, even during the technical programme, but the Cocktail Party and Sundowner supplied extra incentives for mingling and making the most of what was available on some of the booths – and this year the usual alcohol and snacks were supplemented by an interactive sandpit (Target) and the opportunity to make and fly paper aeroplanes during the Great British Fly-Off (Bell Geospace).
Perhaps the biggest worry with the move to ExCeL was the Evening Excursion (aka pub crawl). For some reason this was the focus of many folks’ concerns – and given the social nature of PETEX such concerns were not unfounded. However, it was clear from the rather sluggish start to Thursday that rather than being disappointing, the festivities had actually been extremely successful. ExCeL is not short on venues, and for those of us who remember long walks around Kensington in the pouring rain, it was refreshing to be able to go from one venue to another in a very short space of time. All were well attended and our hosts – Blueback Reservoir, ION, Lynx, Polarcus and Weatherford all laid on excellent and very generous events for delegates.
The invitation-only Exploration Manager’s Luncheon was very well attended, and our thanks to Newfoundland and Labrador for their generous sponsorship of this event, which is a vital part of PETEX, as the PESGB extend a welcome to those explorers who continue to go deeper and further in the search for hydrocarbons, not only in the North Sea but across the world.
As always we are very grateful to sponsors and exhibitors alike, without whom this event would not be possible. We thank you for your willingness to support an industry led event which not only helps to keep the PESGB running as a society for you, the members, but also for contributing towards their effort to support MSc students and initiatives such as the Etches Collection.
In summary – again searching for adequate superlatives – PETEX 2014 exceeded all expectations, allayed all concerns and delivered a conference and exhibition worthy to be called “simply the best”.