Background from 2018
The “AAPG Energy Transition Forum – A New Era for Geoscience” in Amsterdam, September 2018, brought together expert speakers and distinguished participants to discuss the Future of Energy, Sustainability, Digitalisation, and Skills and New Ways of Working. Sessions provided thought-provoking presentations and interactive breakout sessions utilising a variety of facilitation styles to maximise engagement.
The emerging consensus in 2018 was that:
- The Energy Transition is irreversible but will take different speeds and shapes in different geographies, given various local economic and societal pressures. In all scenarios there is still a need for oil and gas for the foreseeable future, and the demand for certain earth metals will actually materially increase.
- Geoscience skills are still needed during the Energy Transition to continue to provide the increasing amount of sustainable energy the world needs in the decades to come. This energy will come from a more diverse set of sources and many require geoscience skills (e.g. geothermal). Also, subsurface skills are required for environmental solutions, such as carbon capture and sequestration.
- Digitalization will transform the geosciences as it is such a data-rich field and that is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can have the biggest impact. Digitalization is not expected to take away geoscience roles but will materially change the way we work.
- Geoscientists bring unique skills to the Energy Transition, given their deep experience dealing with highly complex problems and the use of big data. The geoscientist of the future needs deep ‘domain knowledge’ as well as being adept with digitalization.
Focus for 2019
While the 2018 discussion dealt with Geoscience more broadly and the impact of The Future of Energy, Sustainability, Digitalisation and Skills on it, it also concluded that Geoscientists themselves have a role to play. As a group, they can be proud of the huge contributions they have made to the progress of society over the past decades. It was also clear that they now need to step forward and engage with the wider society on solving the dilemmas associated with the Energy Transition. That is why the 2018 conference “A New Era for Geoscience” has been reframed with a greater focus in 2019 on the individual in “A New Era for the Geoscientist”, the dilemmas that keep him or her up at night, and the skills that might help unlock future opportunities.
A New Era for the Geoscientist will focus on:
• The role of the Geoscientist in delivering The Future of Energy: Can I realistically help and have a positive impact on the environment as a Geoscientist? The continued need for oil and gas in the foreseeable future is clear, and thus the role of geoscience in exploration and production. But does that mean geoscientist are absolved from making very active and real efforts to improve the environment? Carbon Capture and Storage can no longer be dismissed as an expensive luxury and geoscientists have a real role to play. The question is, whether current curriculums adequately position graduates to make a real difference.
• Sustainability: Does the renewables agenda deliver real jobs for me as a geoscientist, or are they just a nice idea? Plenty options have been shared, in theory, where geoscientists can support renewable energy scenarios. Are these activities commercially viable and can they deliver real jobs? If so, where and if not, what do we need to do? Supporting the 2-degree economy by 2050 and the demand for new metals and minerals like aluminium, iron, lead and nickel, renewables like wind, solar and geothermal activities, will require key additional skillsets.
• Digitalisation: Evolution or revolution? What is the Geoscientist already doing differently? Geoscientists have been digital for over 20 years, so are we talking about the development of the routine systems/applications currently in place, or true disruption? Let’s be clear. We need to step beyond the jargon and understand how ways of working have already changed, where they will continue to change, and how to capitalize on this.
• Skills: Which Geoscientists already have their travel bag of skills ready to go? What do these roles actually look like, with the hybrid competencies and polymorphic skillsets, filled by those well-versed in the commercial part of the business and willing to work beyond upstream and into the extended value chain. Let’s look at those mobile across a broader industry, from digital tech, to seismic operator, to oil & gas, to renewable and back and understand how they best prepared themselves to do this.
The forum aims therefore to collect and deliver practical recommendations to prepare a diverse range of geoscientists.
A diverse range of geoscientists who might attend
The Energy Transition Forum is designed for anyone who wishes to contribute to a practical outline which supports the academic and practical development and ways of working for all geoscientists. But to prepare for all groups to be equipped with the skills necessary to embrace current and future opportunities, we need to consider:
- Young Professionals (New and existing) – what does the industry need to do to meet expectations in terms of skills development, motivation and career ambition?
- Generation X – What is the future role for existing experienced professionals and alumni, potentially with deep expertise and possibly individual contributors. Will roles change? What additional skills will be required? What will companies need to do to make the most of all talent available?
- Decision Makers – What decisions need to be taken and what kind of leadership do we expect realistically respond to stakeholder expectation.
- Educators – how will our teachers, trainers and mentors need to adapt in order to provide the next generation with the necessary skills, expertise and attitudes to provide a safe, reliable and sustainable industry.
The event will be scribed throughout, and attendees will receive a final report, published by AAPG after the event. This would be sent to all attendees and be made available on the AAPG and sister-society websites.