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Fuelling the Future: Energy Questions Driving a New Geoscience

We will illustrate how changing societal needs and environmental considerations impact the oil and gas industry and how in particular these call for fundamental new (geo)science and technologies. Various significant improvements in sensor technologies as well as in computational methods, as well as space- and airborne scanning technologies have started to play a more prominent role in frontier oil and gas exploration. I will show how various novel airborne methods as well surface based technologies may be used to detect new oil and gas accumulations and also optimize production from existing Oil and Gas accumulations – and what challenges are ahead. At the same time these techniques may help to quantify our understanding of environmental and climate changes due to human activity.


Dirk Smit (Shell)


Dirk Smit has been with Shell since 1992, and is currently Head of Exploration Research and Innovation in Shell International Exploration and Production.

He earned an undergraduate degree in 1985 in Theoretical Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD in 1989 in Mathematical Physics from the University of Utrecht.

Dirk worked in the Theoretical Physics department at the University of California–Berkeley until the end of 1991, before starting his career with Shell in EP Research.

After various assignments in the UK, he became Head Geophysics for Shell UK and was responsible for all seismic data acquisition and processing - in particular for Shell’s 4D “time lapse” seismic program to monitor fluid dynamics in hydrocarbon reservoirs. In 2003 he moved back to the Netherlands to become a Global Exploration Consultant and Technology Manager. He is passionate about science and technology, and he believes their role in the energy industry will become much larger than it is today.

Dirk is a visiting scientist at MIT in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science and became a member of the Solid Earth Science Panel of the US National Research Council (part of the US National Academy of Sciences) in 2005.

He is also a member of the Dutch National Science Board and a member of the Science Advisory Board of the University Utrecht.

Dirk’s hobbies include sailing and astronomy: “With my 8in SCT, coupled to a computer and with lots of digital filters, my 8 year old son and I gaze through the ‘illuminated’ Dutch skies and marvel about the wonders of the distant universe”.