The History of GeoConvention

Formally, GeoConvention began in 2013 with the signing of an agreement that committed the CWLS, the CSEG, and the CSPG to a limited partnership that was designed to provide a showcase technical conference dedicated to the petroleum geoscience of Canada and parts of the United States. The agreement took a dedicated committee of 7 volunteers from the three societies (3 from CSPG, 3 from CSEG and 1 from CWLS) and input from the executives of all three societies almost a year and half to negotiate.

Although the agreement was signed in 2013 the three technical societies had been collaborating for over a decade on joint conventions.

The early roots of the GeoConvention began in the early stages of the Alberta Geological Society (AGS), who would have meetings in Banff to look at rock, socialize, and have a few days out of the office. These could be raucous affairs and were generally well attended by the relatively small membership. In the 1970’s and 80’s the CSPG Convention grew exponentially, however it was not the only party in town as the CSEG was also established and growing quickly. At this time there were clear distinctions between Geologists and Geophysicists. In many oil companies, they kept these two disciplines apart and in some cases they would not cross-train one between the disciplines for fear that individual employees would become too valuable and would leave. Once the NEP (National Energy Program) hit the party died. This was followed by a protracted slump in oil prices and deterioration in the employment of new graduates to the industry. Through this time, the companies learned to do more with fewer people. This was greatly facilitated with the advent and use of micro-computers in the office. The labs, research centres, large log libraries and main frame computers that each oil company maintained to process seismic data became a thing of the past. Companies began to outsource everything that was peripheral to the main task of finding and producing hydrocarbons. Service companies began to emerge as both significant employers and drivers of new technology through their investment in research and development. Also the service industry became an increasingly important employer in the industry. The service companies needed to show case their abilities and the individual conventions of the three societies became an important marketing tool for that purpose.

Eventually, three conventions became too much and the societies began running joint conventions some years and separate events in other years. The membership of the societies clearly showed a preference for joint conventions, although there were still some that preferred separate ones. Gradually, this opinion became that of a small minority and the membership insisted that future the conventions should be jointly run. A Joint Annual Convention Committee was formed and a formal process begun to hold an integrated convention was born.

JACC started out with a committed group of volunteers from each of the three societies that were selected by the executives from each of the member societies. These volunteers were tasked with indentifying : General Co-Chairs, technical chairs and the rest of the core set of volunteers to run the joint conventions. The CSPG and CSEG would each act as an operator on a two year rotating basis. This was critical for the Convention Committee’s ability to conduct it’s business. The infrastructure made available by the societies to the Convention Committee such as meeting rooms, accounting, banking and a convention manager were critical to the success of each conventions. Like most things the idea was good but one of the great problems for the operating societies was the volunteer nature of participation and the revolving door of leadership (convention managers) . Some years relationships were good and other years, relationships were sticky. Like any relationship there are highs and lows. Additionally, the JACC model was very restrictive in the ability to forward plan and develop our convention as a brand.

The one thing that all three societies could agree on was that the convention was one of the most important events of the year from a technical and social point of view, as well as providing significant funds to support each society. From this, GeoConvention was born. Once again, a committee of seven volunteers was struck, made up of former members of JACC , former General Co-Chairs and significant joint convention volunteers and executive members of all three societies, tasked with evaluating JACC and charting a longer term course for our beloved convention. There was some reluctance from a minority of the membership of all three societies to enter into an agreement that had permanence to it, but overall the majority of the membership was in favour of the formation of GeoConvention and the opportunity that it brings for each society and their membership. After a year and half of planning, negotiating and with both legal and financial advice, GeoConvention Partnership LLP was born.

With Geoconvention’s launch, it ran into a perfect storm of a severe downturn and the annual 10 year arrival of the AAPG Annual Convention and Exposition. The amount of competition created by this event at a time of great contraction of the oil industry, created a situation that would put most new ventures out of business; however, with careful planning and prudent management, GeoConvention weathered the storm and came out of the last year with great experience and clear commitment from the sponsoring societies that they are committed to the brand and unified approach.

GeoConvention is a significant scientific meeting, an excellent opportunity to showcase technology, an efficient method to keep abreast of industry, and one of the best networking opportunities for geoscientists during the year. Future generations will find ways to make it better but as long as we meet as one group we will continue to advance both our science and industry.

Historically, our three societies have housed many of the greatest pioneers of the petroleum industry and have contributed greatly to the global understanding of the subsurface. Collectively, we can all stand proud as Canadian geoscientists and the foundations set by GeoConvention enable us to showcase the wisdom, talents and abilities in our profession for many years to come.

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