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HISTORY OF ENERGY TRANSITION: What have the Romans (Energy Professionals) every done for us?

December 13, 2023 @ 4:45 pm - 7:30 pm

$40.00 – $70.00

Society of Petroleum Engineers Western Australia is proud to present the details of our December 2023 SPE WA Technical Meeting.

About the Presentation

Mark will deliver a light-hearted whimsical review of the ongoing human energy transition, reflecting on the role played by energy professionals (Romans) in forever changing the world we live in. Starting in the paleolithic, when catching and eating animals produced a bigger brain, only a bunch of cave paintings, hieroglyphs and a few cartoons of Larsen remain to attest to the beginning. Discovering fire, the burning of carbon-based materials to gain heat, cook food and scare the crap out of everything else was when problems began, pretty much right away. Cutting down most of the trees, we ate a buffet of wild animals, whilst rejecting early versions of the paleo diet, we ruined our teeth. We engineered new weapons we could turn on ourselves when the animals became too few led to millennia of conflict. Life was good but most of us died at birth or in early childhood, survivors taken out mostly by a variety of sexually transmitted diseases or in pointless bloodthirsty battles, rich in toxic masculinity. Compulsory superannuation was still in its infancy.

The Chinese “invented” coal 3500 years ago, the Romans dabbled after the birth of Christ, but not until the 18th century did coal really have its moment, basking in long forgotten sunlight. Powering the industrial revolution, perfecting child labour and blackening the skies, mass production and the energy to move it quickly to consumers was delivered. About the same time a crazy colonel struck oil in Pennsylvania, saving the whales and irrevocably shifting global power away from empire. Soon we had a tiger in our tank, driving our gas guzzling automobiles to the store to buy pointless trinkets or enjoying a new past-time known as a vacation. The first Black Friday sale was held.

Fossil fuels, more than any other enterprise, have powered human development, improving living conditions beyond our wildest imagination, dramatically increasing human life expectancy. None of this could have been achieved without engineering. For millennia improvements relied on replacing one energy source with a more energy dense and efficient one. How do we transition to future fuel sources that are inherently less dense, less efficient and with a footprint dwarfing anything that has come before? So, what have the Romans (aka energy professionals) done for us? What role does a mere rock doctor play in this new world, do we remain relevant or are we destined to the dust bin of history having done all we could to lay down the next super source rock?


About the Speaker 

Dr Mark Lisk – Chief Geoscientist, Ascendience Geoscience

Mark has experienced a continuous transition throughout his 30-year resource industry career. Joining the down-stream oil business at 16 in a petroleum engineering role, pumping petrol at the local BP he realised there was way too much maths involved and instead chose to study geology at the University of Auckland. Briefly distracted by the allure of gold, Mark worked epithermal exploration for BHP in the wild hills of the Coromandel, dodging drug lords and rabid environmentalists, before a resource industry reality check with his first redundancy. Returning to the oil patch in 1990 he left NZ for West Island to engage in scientific experiments on the Island of Dr Moreau, aka CSIRO. Gazing intently at microscopic objects small in stature but with a big story to tell, he became a true specialist, knowing absolutely everything about nothing! With a half-finished PhD in tow and clutching his first redundancy cheque he joined Woodside in 2005 just in time for a boom in oil price. Widely, but mistakenly considered a geochemist, despite failing organic geochemistry twice at university, Mark transitioned, some might say blossomed, becoming a regional geologist with a focus on Australian basins. His transition to a generalist, knowing nothing about everything, was now complete. Yearning to see geology beyond Australia, a transition to International New Ventures beckoned, complete with globetrotting travel opportunities. Almost too good to last the winds of Covid blew, oil price collapsed again, culminating in yet another redundancy. Cast adrift, this time in a more palatial lifeboat, latest redundancy payment providing a suitable cushion, he took the plunge and started his own company. Now adept at the art of transitioning Mark has discovered a sweet life diversifying into new energies. Adaption is part and parcel of being a successful in the energy business, where others see doom and gloom, we see opportunity and with luck, some free beer.

About the Event

Price:             Early Bird SPE Member        $40 <Until 6 Dec 2023>
                       Early Bird Non-Member         $60 <Until 6 Dec 2023>
                       SPE Member                           $50
                       Non-Member                           $70

Date:              Wednesday, 13 December 2023

Location:       Parmelia Hilton Hotel
Location:       14 Mill Street, Perth WA 6000

Time:             4:45pm – 5:00pm Registration & Networking.
Time:             5:00pm – 5:50pm Opening remarks and presentation.
Time:             5:50pm – 6:00pm Q&A Session.
Time:             6:00pm – 7:30 pm  Networking drinks & nibbles.

Free tickets are available for Students. SPE WA in conjunction with our sponsors is kindly sponsoring students to attend the monthly technical events. Please apply through your Student Chapter.



December 13, 2023
4:45 pm - 7:30 pm
$40.00 – $70.00
Event Categories:


Jack Harfoushian


Pamelia Hilton Hotel
14 Mill St
Perth, WA 6000 Australia
+ Google Map
(08) 9215 2000
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