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2022 International Geomechanics Symposium in Abu Dhabi - Presidents' Panel thoughts

This year's International Geomechanics Symposium was held in Abu Dhabi last week. It was another opportunity for us to meet with our friends, customers and colleagues to share and participate is technical discussions and exchange learnings.

Not only was our very own Frans Mulders presenting, but I was there to participate in the Presidents' panel with my role as this year's SPWLA President. The panel itself aimed to share Society efforts and challenges in the new era of energy transition, and may I say we had a great discussion.

Perhaps I’m an optimist but I don’t see the Energy Transition as a challenge for us. Instead, I see it as an opportunity.

The skills that the Petrophysicist and Geomechanics practitioner have acquired during their oil and gas careers will hold them in good stead when they are applied in the Energy Transition. We have a whitepaper all about this topic, you can download it here.

The SPWLA created the Alternative Subsurface /Energy Transition Special Interest Group (AS/ET SIG) in 2021 to provide our members with the additional skills they may need to take on “New Energy”. Together, with the Education SIG, we have already held several workshops and more are being planned - both in-person and online. Our 2023 Spring Topical Conference will be dedicated to this topic and we will have workshops and technical sessions on Alternative Subsurface at our annual symposium next June. It is of core importance and interest to us all.

Many people have already found employment with companies focused on various facets of the Alternative Subsurface including carbon capture, utilization and storage; geothermal; rare earth mineral mining and nuclear waste storage.

In the last few years, we have also seen a rebranding of some traditional petrochemical companies as more generic “Energy” companies; some have even given up their hydrocarbon divisions completely. However, they are now applying high-end technologies to what was previously a low-end market.

During research for my keynote presentation at the Japanese Formation Evaluation Society Annual Symposium, I read several International Energy Authority (or IEA) reports that predicted the future energy make-up.

By 2040, the IEA predicts that the energy make-up from hydrocarbons will be:

  • ~ 50% in North America and Asia-Pacific
  • ~ 40% in Europe
  • ~ 75% in the Middle East

As the world’s energy requirements are expected to increase over the following decades, hydrocarbon production will still be in demand. The one area that could become an issue - and this is probably more of an issue in Europe and the US - is with the general public’s acceptance of the oil and gas industry’s involvement in alternative energies.

There is a perceived view that we are purely involved for profit and shouldn’t be part of New Energy. The reality is that we bring the knowledge to New Energy that cannot be relearnt overnight. We have the skillsets to move the energy transition forward and at the scales required. There is no single solution. We need to adopt an all-options, all-solutions and all-technologies approach.

In summary, the Oil and Gas industry is part of the Net-Zero solution:

  • Hydrocarbon production will remain a key component of the
    Energy Transition
  • The expertise formed in the Oil and Gas industry are essential for
    the Alternative Subsurface
  • We need to do a much better job of managing the expectations of
    the General Public. 
  • Utilizing Geoactive software, that are known and robust analytical tools, can be a reliable way to investigate the subsurface for these Alternative Subsurface purposes and should not be discounted because of the origin of their development.

A few pics from the Presidents Panel and the area*




Dr Tegwyn Perkins, 64th President of SPWLA and IP Geoengineering Product Champion.


*Photo credit to the one and only Julie Rowlands.

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