Well, we all knew it would happen … sometime.
Our industry has always had ups and downs, and now we are back in one of the downs with a 60 percent drop in the price of oil from the price high of last June.
Everywhere I go people ask me, why has the price of oil dropped, and when will it recover?
I only know what the talking heads tell me about why it is down and my crystal ball is in the shop for repair, so I don’t know when it will recover, but, like you, I hope that the recovery begins in the not-too-distant future.
Every downturn for me turns my thoughts to the downturn of 1986. That was the first one I experienced, and, wow, that was a bad one.
I, along with many others, was hired during the mega boom of the early 1970s and knew nothing but high oil prices and high-flying times for the first 12 years of my career.
Then came 1986, and everything changed.
Most of us who endured that one surely remember the then-popular bumper sticker: “Please God, just give me one more oil boom. I promise not to p#!% it away next time.”
So many of my colleagues lost their jobs, changed their careers. My consulting business dried up and I found I had lots of time on my hands.
Fortunately for me, I also had a position as lecturer in petroleum geology for the University of Wyoming. It was only a part-time position at that time, but it was a position and it provided some income.
I had a little income, and a fair amount of time – so what did I do?
I got ready for the future by attending conferences and short courses (mostly AAPG offerings, but those of my local societies as well – RMAG, WGA, RMS-SEPM), and by being more active in AAPG, and thus expanding my network.
I also worked on projects that had been on the back burner because of lack of time but that I thought had potential, and that interested me.
Interestingly, these things made me more attractive to the university, and they expanded my position to include teaching more courses, supervising graduate students and doing research. Although an academic career had never been part of my plan, I found I enjoyed teaching and tried very hard to emulate the role models who so inspired me when I was a student.
Although I was no longer drilling wells, I was still engaged in studying and trying to better understand the petroleum systems of the Rocky Mountains.
Yes, I was very lucky – but I also had worked hard from the time I first went to work, and with the support of my company and my bosses:
- I had been active in AAPG and SEPM and my local societies.
- I had published and given presentations.
- I had led field trips.
- I had taught short courses.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was building my career and my network along with my knowledge and my technical and soft skills. My love of geology and the warm receptions and strong support I felt from my colleagues at professional meetings, as well as the support of my colleagues at work and my company, simply led me to do these things.
It wasn’t until later, when conditions in the industry started improving, that I realized just how important my various professional activities were.
The message for today is clear:
Companies, while tightening their belts and evaluating how best to spend their efforts during this downturn, should also be looking at the long term and how to best position themselves for the next boom.
Geoscientists should be doing the same.
Being part of our AAPG community is even more important during downturns than when things are flying high.
- The technical information and educational opportunities you need to stay up-to-date.
- Conferences to keep you informed while providing ideal venues for maintaining old and making new personal contacts.
- An AAPG global community that could very well lead to your next opportunity.
AAPG can help you continue to build your career – and provide opportunities that allow you to showcase your talents.