July 2018 Exclusive Story

SEG Annual Meeting

Sessions Highlight 2018 Technical Program

By Kari Johnson, Special Correspondent

TULSA–Geophysicists have always been at the leading edge of technology, continually pushing the boundaries to better reveal subsurface features. Advances in computing technology and new horizons of geological targets provide plenty of opportunities and challenges to earth science professionals, and the 2018 Society of Exploration Geophysicists’ Annual Meeting & International Exposition aims to address both with a comprehensive technical program and exhibition, according to SEG President Nancy J. House.

SEG’s 88th annual meeting event, scheduled for Oct. 14-19 in Anaheim, opens with a general session featuring keynote speaker Darryl Willis, vice president of oil, gas and energy at Google Cloud. He will present a presentation titled “The cost of the status quo: Get on board or get left behind.”

House, who is principal scientist at Integrated Geophysical Interpretation in Littleton, Co., says Willis’ background in oil and gas geophysics gives him unique insights on how cloud computing, analytics, machine learning and other evolving information technologies will impact upstream business workflows. Prior to joining Google in March, Willis had a long career at BP, beginning as an exploration geophysicist and rising through operational, staff and management positions, including senior vice president and deputy head of subsurface and president and general manager of BP Angola.

“This year’s conference will also build on last year’s computing focus, with technical sessions on big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence,” House comments. “On the exhibit floor, there is no doubt that software and hardware vendors and service providers also will be highlighting ways to leverage these solutions in geophysical analysis.”

SEG will also again feature the “Google and Friends Hackathon for Data Science and Machine Learning” course on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The course provides an overview of machine learning and includes several hackathon-style events focused on making data science more accessible, House explains.

New at this year’s event will be one-on-one business professional partnering, which House likens to speed dating. “Conference attendees can create a profile including interests and then meetings are automatically scheduled,” she explains. “This is an unprecedented chance for meeting attendees to connect with others from around the world.” The program will help facilitate meetings with prospective investors, collaborators and business executives. Each face-to-face meeting is 30 minutes.

Plenary Sessions

Plenary sessions on the business impact of applied geophysics are another addition to this year’s program. These sessions feature panels of experts from operating companies, governments, service providers, educators and consultants.

“The role of geophysics is changing and I am particularly pleased that so many in our community are embracing that change,” House remarks. “These sessions will provide much needed insights into the future of geophysics and how the value is both expressed and realized.”

There is something for everyone in the plenary sessions. The first plenary session kicks off on Monday afternoon, Oct. 15, and focuses on the southern Gulf of Mexico. Speakers include representatives from several associations and commissions, as well as Shell, Total and Sierra Oil & Gas Exploration.

Tuesday’s first plenary session discusses digital transformation, considering changes in how the industry acquires, processes, interprets and applies subsurface data. The speakers represent the breadth of the industry from operators to service providers and technologists. The second session focuses on the regulatory environment, with speakers from regulatory agencies and the industry.

On Wednesday, the sessions shift to looking at economic and social impacts. The first session, titled “Frontiers for Geophysicists,” features a panel of senior researchers and executives who will discuss what geophysicists are doing to help provide water, lessen the impact of natural disasters and design more efficient communities.

The final plenary session addresses the geophysical return on investment for unconventional resources. “Resource plays have radically changed oil and gas operations and have forced a re-evaluation of virtually every standard practice,” says House. “Geophysicists now need to reconsider and rearticulate the value of geophysics in this context. The discussion of the economic application of geophysics should be both informative and thought provoking.”

Scheduled speakers for the session are Rob Hull, senior staff geophysicist at Pioneer Natural Resources, Doug Klepacki, manager of geophysics at Cimarex Energy Company, Peter Duncan, president and chief executive officer of MicroSeismic Inc., and Rusty Gilbert, general manager of technology deployment and adoption at Chevron Technology Ventures.

The technical program also includes daily oral and poster presentations, panel sessions, a special “entrepreneurs’ session” in which hopeful entrepreneurs present their business ideas to a panel, and field trips. There will be more than 1,000 technical presentations at this year’s annual meeting, House concludes, noting that SEG anticipates more than 6,000 attendees from 70 countries.

For additional information and to register to attend, visit the SEG 2018 annual meeting website.

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