A reflection on change and an optimistic look forward for SEG
Diversify and Grow
by Chris Posey
"Diversify and grow" was the admonition given by current SEG President David Monk, as he addressed a large, widely diverse audience at the Opening Ceremony and Presidential Address at SEG's 83rd Annual Meeting and International Exposition. The Ceremony and Address took place Monday, 23 September in the George Bush Grand Ballroom of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. The Ballroom stage, flanked by four neon pillars, two on each side, and two huge video screens that ran from floor to ceiling, was empty as a video that chronicled an abbreviated history of geophysics and of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists began to play. Watchers learned more about the roots of their Society since its inception in 1930 as spotlights drew a bead on that longstanding symbol of excellence in geophysics, the iconic SEG logo that hovered overhead.
The first to take his place at the translucent podium was the 2013 SEG Annual Meeting General Chairman, Dr. Lee Bell. Dr. Bell, Chief Geophysicist, Geokinetics, Inc., began by noting the fact that the 2013 Annual Meeting had seen the largest Technical Program in Annual Meetings history, and it was in fact the second-largest Annual Meeting in SEG history. Bell took a moment to recognize the individuals who made up the 2013 Annual Meeting Steering Committee, a group that stood to a hearty round of applause. Bell closed his introduction by sharing the welcoming sentiments of Texas Governor Rick Perry and Houston Mayor Annise Parker with those in the audience.
Following Dr. Bell's opening remarks, SEG President, Dr. David J. Monk, took the stage for his formal address to society members. Himself a 27-year member of SEG, Dr. Monk spoke with authority on the aspects of societal change, commenting on the significant increase in SEG membership that has occurred, even in the past 10 years, as well as the growth of the SEG staff and the Annual Meeting itself. True to his data-driven roots, Monk presented a log scale to illustrate the explosive growth SEG has enjoyed over time. And while this growth and change are undeniably noteworthy, Monk parried to speak of the ways SEG has remained the same. Using the Chevrolet Corvette as a parallel, Monk emphasized the fact that SEG has always been true to its mission of supporting geoscientists both academically and professionally. In addition, SEG's Annual Meeting has remained the same in that it continues to be the largest geophysical conference and exposition in the world. (At the time of Monk's address, the 2013 Annual Meeting registration was at an unbelievable 9,400 participants – and growing!)
Dr. Monk acknowledged with pride several landmark steps taken by the organization in recent past, including the creation of offices in both China and in the Middle East and the growth of Near Surface activities among the society. On this thread, Monk took the opportunity to announce a decision that the SEG Executive Board would be establishing a Near Surface subsidiary – a decision that had occurred within the 24-hour period leading up to this presidential address. Finally, Monk gave a nod to SEG's newest journal, Interpretation, which began circulation just this past month.
A changing SEG landscape
"There's more change coming" announced Dr. Monk, as he segued into the presentation of a video showing an architect's rendering of what is to become SEG's newest building at its headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The groundbreaking for what Monk referred to as a "new home for SEG" took place exactly one week previous to Monk's address at the Annual Meeting.
Monk concluded his speech by thanking the 2012-2013 Executive Board, introducing the 2013-2014 Executive Board, and admonishing both the audience sitting in the ballroom and SEG stakeholders across the world to "Diversify and grow."
Following Dr. Monk's presidential address, the Honorable Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, took the microphone to provide a veritable State of the State address that spoke specifically to oil exploration and production across Texas. Using the Permian Basin, the Barnett Shale and the relative newcomer, the Eagle Ford Shale as quantitative guideposts of E&P growth in Texas, Smitherman shared with vigor his optimism about the future of the industry. To wit: Texas oil crude production has nearly doubled since 2005. Smitherman anticipates the current number to double again by 2020, and perhaps to triple by the year 2025.
Also notable was Smitherman's report of natural gas production in Texas, which hit near-record levels in 2013. Smitherman cited technological advances as a primary contributor to new E&P growth. Such technological advances have enabled sites like the Eagle Ford Shale to go from almost no production whatsoever just five years ago to almost 600,000 bbd in 2013.
Smitherman concluded his address with continued optimism, stating with palpable conviction that "the future is incredibly bright for this industry." No doubt, between the incumbent SEG leadership and the prospects on the horizon, SEG is on course to fully embrace this very bright future.
Read additional coverage of the Opening Ceremony and Presidential Address:
SEG13: SEG expands global participation (OE Digital Edition)
SEG13: Texas prospers from oil industry growth (OE Digital Edition)