The Micropalaeontological Society

6th Petroleum Geology Conference 2003

‘North West Europe and Global Perspectives’

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, 6th – 9th October 2003

Previously this conference has been held at the Barbican Centre, leading to the conference being widely known as the Barbican Conference. This year the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre was used as the new venue, enabling both a core workshop and a 3D visions session to run alongside poster presentations and up to 4 parallel talk sessions. I think everyone would agree that the setting for the conference was unsurpassable, even for those working in London, with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament on the doorstep.

The conference, though still mainly concentrating on exploration and development in north-western Europe, did this time include presentations of global interest. And although initial registration numbers showed a slight decrease in numbers since the last time the conference was held, by the time the late entrants had registered, the number of delegates was on par with previous years.

The Minister of State for Energy and Construction, Stephen Timms MP opened the conference at the ice breaker with a speech emphasising the fact that the ageing industry in the North Sea is increasingly looking towards development rather than to exploration. He went on to say that we have to realise that not too many significant, new discoveries are going to be found. Having said that, ‘old’ fields that have been closed-in, are currently being re-opened as recent advances in technology have allowed uneconomic oil reservoirs to be economically put back on stream.

Three or sometimes four sessions ran in parallel, making things a wee bit difficult if you wanted to visit talks in different parts of the building, but the short question-and-answer sessions at the end of the talks allowed for a quick dash out of one hall, up a few flights of stairs to arrive out of breath just in time for the next talk! In fact I was extremely impressed how the speakers and the organisers managed to keep everything exactly to time!

‘The Atlantic Margin; new insights, Better Recovery through Better Reservoir Characterisation, Structural Application in Exploration and Production, 3D visions, Deep Water Plays and Reservoirs and Gas Renaissance’ were just some of the diverse session titles, plus an on-going session on Exploration Histories and Future Potential.

The 3D visions session was particularly innovative; the delegates were given a pair of 3D glasses to wear while watching the presenter ‘steer’ his way ‘through’ a reservoir. For me, a 3D presentation given by Jarle Pedersen of ConocoPhillips Norge on the Ekofisk Field was of particular interest as he used 3D visions of horizontal sections on this Norwegian Chalk field to ‘fly’ around the Danian and Maastrichtian chalk.

One of the most popular talks was presented by Graham Dore of EnCana (UK) Ltd on the ‘new (2001)’ Buzzard discovery, one of the largest to be found off the UKCS in the last 25 years and illustrating that the North Sea does still have some exploration potential.

A large poster display and core workshop proved very popular, allowing more informal discussions to be held over lunchtime or in coffee breaks.

From a biostratigraphic point of view, it was encouraging to see that biostratigraphy (including nannopalaeontology) is still extensively used in the well planning and execution and in field-wide studies. In his talk on turbidite reservoirs of the Sele Formation, Mark Hempton of Shell UK emphasised that without recent biostratigraphic work (albeit palynology!!), their reservoir model would be a mess! A poster on the Norwegian Oseberg Field (Britze et. al.) demonstrated how foraminifera and nannofossils have been used to untangle the complicated reservoir in a part of the North Sea where chalks interfinger with fine-grained clastics.

From an informal point of view and apart from the diverse and interesting presentations, I saw this conference as a great place to meet lots of familiar faces. Biostrat folk I bumped into inside included Andy Henderson (Foram group chair), and Matt Hampton, Keith Guinn and Tim Wright from Network Stratigraphic. Conveniently, outside the conference hall, the Westminster Bar catered for those who needed stronger refreshement than coffee, and also allowed a couple of biostrat folk who shall remain nameless to join in on the social side of the conference without having to listen to any talks!!

In all a great conference to be able to go to if you can afford the registration fee!

Emma Sheldon, Secretary, Nannofossil Group