An opportunity to discuss and publically debate three critical issues of concern to oil company geologists was introduced into the Petroleum Geology Conference (PGC) programme for the first time in 2009. The debates selected focused on whether "peak oil" was already upon us; the relative role of National Oil Companies (NOCs) versus that of International Oil Companies (IOCs) and whether North Sea Exploration was finished. In each case, the arguments were delivered by two experts, who presented the case for and against each motion before answering questions and facing a vote by the audience, who showed coloured cards to indicate their support for what they had heard. All three debates proved to be extremely popular and were very well attended for all three days. The novel concept was deemed a great success and added significant value to the PGC.