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PESGB Young Professionals 2019 Review | Aberdeen | London | Ireland

Thu 19 March 2020

Category: Community


YPs at DEVEX | Technical Excellence.

The challenges affecting our sector, and more broadly the global community, are significant and growing every day. DEVEX is now in its 16th year and this year’s YP event deliberately brought together a diverse mix of speakers from academia, financial services, alternative technologies and petroleum developments to look for a way forward.

At a time when there is growing public frustration about the lack of progress made on addressing climate change, the talks given by Charlotte Hartley and Anastasia Arkhipova were particularly relevant. Anastasia, currently studying Environmental Partnership Management, was the first speaker to address the crowd and covered waste management in Bali. The talk told the story of how she became aware of the challenges with first-hand experience during a long stay on the island. Then returning to Aberdeen she was able to research further where she devised an environmental challenges brief- a shorts summary on the issues plus recommendations for policymakers and other interested parties. Charlotte, from Pale Blue Dot, focused on projects closer to home namely the Acorn CCS and hydrogen initiative. We learned how skill sets developed over the years through effective oil and gas production can be redeployed to meet the shared goals of people and commerce. Charlotte tackled the problem of getting young professionals involved head on with a call to action. ’we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.’

Peter Miller was the most experienced speaker on the panel and has served in several roles at BP but is currently VP for Modernisation and Transformation. His talk focused on balancing the ever-increasing need for energy with responsible developments. He drew research from the BP energy outlook which makes projections on energy use to 2040 and beyond.

Lastly, Sarah-Jane Flaws gave an overview of her journey from Geoscience to the Financial Services where she is now working as Associate Editor for European and African Oil at S&P Global Platts. The talk covered how various types of fuel are benchmarked and prices allowing market participants to make comparisons between commodities. She focused on two main challenges for the industry in the coming years: 1) the fight to cut global emissions and 2) a look downstream at the industries impacted by new regulations to cut emissions.

It was encouraging to see so many attendees present with standing room only and visitors from as far away as Namibia! The conversation was well received and continued at the main conference networking session in the evening.

The YPs at Devex speakers


Technical Excellence

The first seminar of 2019 kicked off with The Art and Science of Engaging at the Highest Level. Fifty guests braved the torrid weather to listen to three speakers, keen to impart their wealth of knowledge and experience. The first talk, Communicating Science with the Public- The Power of the Media, was by Dee Lawlor, a freelance science writer and STEM ambassador. Dee chose a topic which is never far from the thoughts of the best scientists – how do we use the media as a tool to reach as many people as possible? She skilfully led the audience through a broad range studies tackling climate change, vaccine abolitionists, and GM crops.

Angela Mathis CEO of ThinkTankMaths (TTMs) took to the stage and presented her extensive experience across Defence, Petrochemicals, and Oil and Gas. Her wide-ranging talk took us through her career in business development from helping battle the ozone hole at ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries), to making $3m worth of Iomega zip drive sales in a single year.  Through TTM the focus is to tackle challenges with a level of complexity where established solutions and software, or even underlying rules of thumb, have become inadequate. The team is headquartered in Edinburgh and their algorithms will soon be heading into space as part of the launch sequence for the ArianeGroup 6 rocket.

Angela brought the discussion back to how we can ‘sell maths’; perhaps the answer is to describe it as the language of the natural world.

Susan Morrice, CEO of Belize Natural Energy, dispensed with slides and proceeded with a passionate talk right from the heart. It was a classic tale of success against the odds. The power of communicating a vision to investors who had thrown almost everything they had into a venture half a world away. As Susan said, with a little help from the ‘man upstairs’, her team hit oil in June 2005.

In a closing statement the organiser addressed the challenges raised by the audience – media perceptions, economic headwinds, and accelerating technological change – with a call that decisive leadership is required. He suggested the YP’s pick up a copy of Steve Radcliffe’s Leadership Plain and Simple.

The speakers: Dee Lawlor, Angela Mathis, and Susan Morrice

In June, the PESGB YPs hosted a technical seminar in Aberdeen with Ailsa Quirie as the guest speaker. Almost 40 attendees from industry and academia came to hear Ailsa speak about her research into the ‘phantom volcanoes’ of the North Sea. Ailsa gave attendees an in-depth tour of her PhD thesis which focused on the Rattray Volcanic Province in the Central North Sea. The area was previously thought to be sourced from the eruptions of three central volcanoes during the Jurassic period. Her reinterpretation of 30 seismic in the area and well data disproves this, and instead shows that the style of volcanism was very different, with fissure eruptions occurring from linear vents. She noted that this implies that sedimentary sequences underneath the Rattray Volcanics may be more extensive than previously thought, and therefore it is possible that non-intruded reservoir and source rocks are present beneath. Ailsa’s presentation generated much discussion amongst attendees, which continued long afterwards in a nearby pub.



The social activities organised by the PESGB YPs in Aberdeen are numerous and diverse encouraging young professionals in the industry to get together and network. Throughout the year, the YPs regularly meet up through monthly pub socials. YPs from a variety of backgrounds and companies attended to network with other like-minded individuals over some drinks and to catch up with old friends. Below are highlights from the year’s more unique events.

The annual pub quiz returned in 2019. Always a popular affair, around 40 young professionals come together to compete. Teams tested their knowledge over 6 rounds on topics like geography, geology in the movies and sport. After a count of some very tight final scores, team ‘Sodium Sodium Sodium Batman’ were crowned quiz champions – clever name! The lively event culminated in some informal networking over drinks with old friends and new ones.

The pub quiz with the winning team ‘Sodium Sodium Sodium Batman’

One of the perks of living and working in Aberdeen is having the Cairngorms on your doorstep. On the 6th of July, a group of PESGB YP members from Aberdeen met in the Glen Doll car park, prepared with a range of different clothing for any eventuality in the Cairngorm weather. They set off just after 11 am, through picturesque woodland, complete with the occasional informational post on the local geology (who said this was just a hike and not an education trip too!). Following the signs for Corrie Fee, they soon found our way out of the woods and were presented with a stunning waterfall within a bowl-shaped corrie. While admiring the view they made our way up the side of the waterfall through some steep sections that almost required some scrabbling. At the top of the waterfall, it was a short walk to the summit of Mayar. At the top of Mayar, they stopped for some lunch and spotted Driesh in the distance. After around a 5-hour hike we found ourselves walking down back towards the car park, feeling suitably pleased about bagging two more Munros. They all felt a well-earned drink was in order so piled into the local Glen Clova Hotel bar before heading home. The event was well attended and helped form wider networks for all those who attended!

The intrepid hikers!



Technical Excellence

The first PESGB YP technical seminar of 2019 took place on Monday 28th January with Professor F. Javier Hernández-Molina as the guest speaker. The event was attended by 10-15 young professionals from various fields in the industry. Javier is a leading expert in deep marine sedimentation focussing mainly on “contourites”. He took us on an amazing journey along the deep parts of continental margins, riding drift currents, witnessing submarine waterfalls, getting dizzy chasing eddies or facing deep sea storms.
During the talk, Javier explained “bottom currents” are not as slow as previously thought but can reach high velocities and transport immense amounts of sediment thousands of kilometres away. They can even build huge barcan dunes which can have excellent reservoir potential. Javier also explained why certain turbidite fan systems are not where they are supposed to be as they have lost the battle against the enduring drift currents, emphasising the need to understand the depositional environment fully from an exploration perspective.The evening continued with a visit to the Rack and Tenter Pub where attendees had a  pint and chat, making new friends and sharing life experiences.

Professor F. Javier Hernández-Molina explaining contourite terraces

In September, PESGB Young Professional Thad Cooper, of Azinor Catalyst presented a thought provoking and informative talk for the PESGB evening series. Thad’s presentation was themed around under explored Tertiary injectite plays, and the new insights arising from the forefront of work being done at Azinor Catalyst, specifically within the Beryl Embayment, UK North Sea.

From start to finish Thad’s lecture was filled with fascinating information and vivid graphics. Notably, the audience was talked through a wonderful video, outlining the theorised formation of injectites, by definition, in the area of interest. After delving into the hypothesised thoughts on injectite formation, Thad went on to explain why these sedimentary structures attribute such good porosity and permeability valves, making them integral in exploration efforts across the UK North Sea.

The audience were both engaged and entertained throughout the talk. After the talk had concluded, the PESGB YP community were able to relax at Burlington House and discuss the captivating elements of Thad’s talk over Azinor Catalyst’s signature dark and stormy cocktail!

Later in the month the PESGB YPs held a slightly different seminar evening discussing the relationship between upstream and downstream with ‘Brent: from Barrel to benchmark. The evening started with Kirstie Wright from North Sea Core who ran two core workshops illustrating what is core and its effectiveness within the exploration industry. Our second North Sea Core speaker, John Marshall, discussed the exploration methods used to develop an extensive geological story of the North Sea and how this contributed to the discovery of the Brent oil field. John further explained the success of the discovery and how it led to a proliferation of further discoveries within the North Sea. This was a very extensive talk that outlined the exploration and production methods very clearly for the benefit of attendees from non-geological backgrounds. Finally, our Argus Media representative Michael Carolyn, illustrated a different perspective on how the Brent field establishes a benchmark for the downstream oil and gas industry and influences the oil price and financial market globally. It was a thoroughly informative series of talks for all.

In August, we repeated the successful talk given by Ailsa Quirie in London. The talk covered previous research particularly that the Volcanic province was sourced from central volcanoes. Alisa showed that through her re-interpretation using 3D seismic and well data, that these volcanic centres were absent, and the Rattray Volcanics were sourced in fissure eruptions from linear vents. She also explained that the pre-Middle Jurassic sedimentary sequences beneath the Rattray Volanics are more extensive than previously thought and that non-intruded reservoirs and source rocks in the Rattray area have been underestimated.


Technical Excellence

Our first workshop was hosted in 2019 with the London Petrophysical Society named Petrophysics 101 – An Introduction to Advanced Topics. The objective of the 1-day workshop was to introduce advanced topics in petrophysics to early-mid career non-petrophysicists in the oil and gas industry. Over 60 professionals were in attendance, most of which were the target audience, with a few more experienced attendees distributed amongst the audience, which added to the diversity of the Q&A sessions.

The seminar kicked off with an excellent keynote presentation by Donald Clarke of ExxonMobil on “What is a petrophysicist?”. It is generally assumed petrophysicists are number crunchers who like spreadsheets, calculators and paper logs. And whilst this may (partially) still be the case, Donald emphasised the importance of the integration of well data across the entire E&P life cycle, and how petrophysicists often act as the focal point between all disciplines.

Jumping between both the conventional and unconventional worlds, the technical talks introduced techniques for estimating reservoir parameters in a variety of lithologies (sandstone, shales, shaley-sands, carbonates), whilst also highlighting key pitfalls to watch out for. There were also talks on new exciting petrophysical evaluation methods including micro-CT scanning of unconsolidated oil sands, in addition to rapid estimation of flow  properties of tight gas sands from cuttings. The workshop was very informative and engaging, and well-received by all who attended.

Energy Debate

Technical Excellence

In November PESGB members gathered at the historic Church House in Westminster for the London Energy Debate. This year’s debate focused on the question Is peak oil demand looming? Our distinguished panel, Keith Myers (Westwood Global Energy Group), Richard Norris (Helios Investment Partners/Pandreco), Eric Puik (Shell) and Alan Gelder (Wood Mackenzie) were invited to discuss the effect of different peak oil demand scenarios and their impact on UK energy. The challenging subject did not dissuade the strength of argument presented by all four speakers.

The evening began with short opening statements from each of the four panellists followed by an extensive Q&A session with a wide range of questions posed by the audience.

Coming from different areas relating to the oil and gas industry, the speakers offered up alternative perspectives as to whether peak oil demand is looming, but all shared a common conclusion: not yet. There was a strong emphasis on the oncoming energy transition and it was enlightening to learn about the different considerations required for this process. From energy becoming the new currency and the feasibility of rolling out renewable technologies, to the shortage of resources required to produce electric cars and the varying pressures from the general public in different countries, a wide range of different topics were discussed in depth.

After a final question concerning the future of jobs within the oil and gas industry was put at ease by the panel, the evening was concluded with a wine and canape reception allowing members a chance to further discuss topics and network.

The PESGB Young Professionals Committee thanks the panel and the audience for their participation, without which the event would not have been such a success. In addition, we thank the PESGB for its continued support of the Young Professionals. The discussion provided an excellent learning and networking opportunity, befitting of our showcase event, and the Committee aims to build on this success for next year’s event.



The social activities organised by the PESGB YPs in London are equallly numerous and diverse as those held in Aberdeen. Below are the highlights of busy social calendar year!

The first of our networking events of 2019 happened on Thursday March 21st and saw a large group of Young Professionals gather in the White Hart near Waterloo Station. It was the first time the networking event had been opened up to other societies other than PESGB and AAPG, recognising the value in a multi-disciplinary network. SPE and EAGE joined us enabling attendees to grow their network by meeting new like-minded YPs in the larger Oil & Gas community whilst also catching up with old friends. The value of these events to our expanding membership was clear to see with many asking when the next event will be.

Cycling may not be the first thought for a social event for petroleum geologists but although the clouds were looking threatening, the wind was blowing and the traffic seemed heavy, a group ot PESGB YP members met at Richmond Park. They were lycra clad, with cleats and ready to spin. After introductions and a short safety brief they were cruising down to Kingston Gate getting to know their fellow PESGB members while checking out each other’s bikes. By the time they reached Roehampton Gate on their first lap the rain had stopped, the wind had died down and the traffic seemed all but gone. A second lap (which always seems faster than the first) and they had completed the ride cycle, so headed to the Roebuck pub on Richmond Hill for a quick drink and catch up before heading home. An excellent evening all round, with plans for another ride in 2020.

In July, the London summer networking event proved to be a fantastic evening for all. The White Hart was jam-packed all evening, almost exclusively with PESGB, AAPG and EAGE YP members. The event provided the chance for friends (both old and new) and colleagues to catch up in a relaxed and jovial environment. What was even better was the sheer number of introductions that could be overheard, with attendees who’d never met exchanging backgrounds, swapping stories, realising common interests and friends. The drinking and chatting continued until the pub closure!

In August we launched the first ever ‘PESGB-YP Gumball Challenge’! This event saw four teams of adventurous young professionals complete a series of challenges in exchange for points, taking them from Green Park tube station to the PESGB offices near Victoria. All the while these resourceful combatants raced against the clock (and an increasing ridiculous series of photo opportunities) to fight for the most important prize of all, tiny trophies and plastic ‘Winners’ medals.

There were trials of course. Teams were asked to transport, protect and decorate their egg-quisite mascot, chase down ‘Victoria’ and get in touch with nature, to name a few. However, there could only be one winner. Congratulations to ‘Gneiss Guys Finish Last’ for a game well played and for not living up to their name-sake. After the event attendants were able to trade stories and pictures from their own adventures while also extending their network.

Matt Haythornthwaite of CNOOC commented “The gumball challenge was great fun and must have required a significant amount of effort from the organisers to put together. It was a good chance to meet and network with other subsurface professionals in an open and relaxed environment. Thanks to everyone involved, I shall definitely be attending more events in the future!” 



Technical Excellence

Jamie Collard of Westwood Global Energy Group gave our first Dublin-based seminar of the year in February in the Geological Survey of Ireland. The talk was on the high-impact exploration wells to watch in global exploration in 2019. The talk began with a review of early exploration successes in the first two months of 2019, which included CNOOC’s Glengorm discovery in the North Sea, Total’s Brulpadda discovery offshore South Africa, and Exxon Mobil’s continued success in the Starbroek Block offshore Guyana.

Over the course of forty minutes Jamie took the audience on a global tour, looking at exploration wells being drilled in frontier, well-established and mature basins, covering a variety of play types. He also shed light on the exploration profile of international oil companies, demonstrating how they go about finding oil and gas and the play types they favour. The talk also covered CNOOC’s Iolar well in the south Porcupine Basin, as well as other prospects of note offshore Ireland.

The talk was followed by networking and refreshments across the road in Slattery’s pub with further interest and insight provided by the night’s speaker.


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