Devex 2015 Chairperson's Report

The falling oil price and the subsequent cuts in expenditure and personnel by companies meant that DEVEX 2015, the 12th edition of this popular conference, took place against a particularly tough backdrop. With this in mind, the organising committee changed several things this year with the aim of putting together an excellent technical programme as well as reducing prices for delegates.

The conference was held on 20th and 21st May at the AECC with the theme of Underpinning the Future: Discovery, Development, Recovery. The conference attracted over 300 delegates who saw 50 presentations, 19 posters and 20 exhibitors.

This year key-note speakers were replaced by Key Technical Papers. There were invited, double length papers with the first of these being given by Claus Bjerregaard of Maersk Oil on ‘Developing Culzean: The Subsurface Story of a Major UHPHT Development’. These were followed over the next two days by ‘An Insight into Hydrocarbon Extraction from Shale: Definitely not a Geoscientist’s Bore Nor an Engineer’s Dream’ by Dr Iain Bartholomew; ‘Forties Hits Forty and Still Going Strong’ by Jeff Towart of Apache; ‘Cost Pressures in the North Sea’ by Erin Moffat of Wood Mackenzie; ‘Schiehallion EOR: New Boat, New Opportunities’ by Jamie Collins of BP and ‘Conceptualising a New Infrastructure Hub West of Shetland’ by Neil Platt of Hurricane Energy.

Core made an appearance at the AECC this year with papers from Zoë Sayer of BP and Jill Marriott of Taqa combining field case studies with a core walk through. These proved particularly popular and a welcome addition to Powerpoint presentations.

Alongside the main conference programme, some of the exhibitors provided a series of educational masterclasses in a lecture theatre built within the exhibition hall. This allowed delegates to brush up on forgotten skills or indeed learn new ones. Topics covered included Uses of Geochemistry by APT UK; Core Handling by Baker Hughes; Uncertainty and Risk in Development by AGR; Understanding Borehole Images and their Application by Task Fronterra; Reservoir Quality Analysis by Rock Type; and Understanding PVT by Conoco Phillips. These were particularly popular with standing room only for a couple of them.

Day 1 finished with a busy poster session which was followed by the customary networking reception.

For early risers, Day 2 started with an interactive breakfast session on careers given by Chris Flavell of Zinc Consultants. This was followed by another packed programme which culminated in the very popular Young Professionals session on ‘How Should Young Professionals’ Cope During a Period of Reduced Oil Price.’ This was a panel event chaired by Deirdre O Donnell of Working Smart and featured panellists Peter Brand, UK Subsurface Manager for Taqa Bratani; Rita Michel-Greiss, Business Development Manager for AGR Tracs; Chris Flavell, MD of Zinc Consultants and former MP Sir Malcolm Bruce. There was good participation all round and the panel had much in the way of suggestions to offer us all and not just YPs.

Following the conference Schlumberger hosted a visit to their tool depot in Dyce and Doug Boyd ran a fieldtrip combined with more core to the Devonian outcrops at Arbroath. Thanks to both Schlumberger and to Doug for taking the time to organise the trips.

There is no doubt that 2015 has been a difficult year to try and organise a conference. Overall I am very pleased – the number of delegates is up slightly on 2014 (which was not a great year it must be said) and the technical content was very high. The Best Presentation was won by Jeff Towart and the Best Poster by Ken Black.

It is to be hoped that in these constrained times that companies continue to see the value of a cheap conference in Aberdeen and support it through sponsorship, encouraging staff to attend and present and perhaps getting more core out of storage.

Watch this space for DEVEX 2016.