Review: PESGB Africa Conference
Another fine conference delivered by the PESGB! The Africa Conference is a favourite of many, because of its dual location, alternating between London and Houston, and also because of its very focused nature. It has an optimum size, large enough to attract a range of attendees, all actively engaged in African exploration or research, but not too big, so that over the 2 days you can meet all the key people, past colleagues and future collaborators / employers maybe. Add to that, the advantage of a strong technical programme, single session talks, so that hopefully key presentations aren’t missed, and a great venue in the Design Centre located within vibrant Islington, and it’s a winning formula.
This year’s conference in London was no exception. Despite the current downturn and low oil price, registrations for the conference were strong, and the programme delivered was of a very high quality. Of particular note I think was the high number of excellent posters. This format has been growing at the Africa Conference over the years, to cater for increasing demand. It is perhaps the best medium to showcase work and get substantial feedback. The range of themes and the detail and quality of the poster presentations was commendable. I saw many huddled groups discussing with the authors, and the poster display location, within the exhibition area, was well thought out to encourage participation. Time was the issue as ever, that is finding the time to look at all the posters, in between the presentation session, seismic workshop and visiting the exhibition booths.
The meeting opened on the Wednesday with an icebreaker, which was well attended and an opportunity to catch up with colleagues. On Thursday the President of the PESGB, Nick Terrell, kicked off the conference, noting of course that our thoughts were with colleagues effected by Hurricane Harvey that had just hit Houston. A few booths / poster slots were empty as participants from Houston had had to cancel at the last minute, and numbers must have been affected, but not so it had a detrimental effect on the programme.
The technical session then started in earnest. A good mix of academic and industry speakers. The committee had tried to select a range of topics, both geographicaly and according to subject matter, presented in clear themes. The aim was to focus on showcasing new insights to provide the foundations for the next generation of exploration, appraisal and development. Some really outstanding presentations, showing new data and new concepts. Consensus from those I discussed with was that some of the “regional reviews”, that didn’t offer much that was new, could possibly have been omitted, given the expertise of the audience. But most talks hit the spot and the hall was full throughout the two days. What was liked in particular were those talks that show lots of data and had a clear exploration and development focus.
Given the quality of the presentations it’s difficult to select highlights, but personally if I was to pick some examples, I liked the opening talk by James Muirhead of Syracuse, lots of data and concepts very well presented, Cairn’s presentation on SNE in Senegal by Wytze de Boer, the ENI presentation on the Sedimentology and Architecture of Deepwater Turbidite Systems Offshore Mozambique by Daniel Bendias & Fabio Contreras, Eni and the Somali Basin’s keynote by Jean-Claude Ringenbach, Total.
The exhibition was busy, with informed people doing good business by the looks of things, and overall this conference is a winning formula and not one that I’d tinker with too much. Its interesting to note that the PESGB is going to try to replicate this next year with the SE Asia SEAPEX meeting, and so going forward we can look forward to alternative SE Asia and Africa conferences in London.
And finally well done to the hard work of the technical committee and the admin team at PESGB. Registration was a breeze and arrangement for exhibitors handled really well. And I’m sure those of us who “tweet” will have all seen the very strong campaign to advertise the programme and speakers, the first time I have seen done so effectively for any conference.
Well done PESGB!
North Africa Research Group
University of Manchester