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The New Face of AAPG

As I have written in a number of columns, this has been a difficult year for all of the scientific associations with whom we closely work. AAPG has, like them, made a difficult choice to further reduce our staff size, for the second time this fiscal year, and once again great folks who have been with us for many years are now looking for new employment.

The No. 1 challenge for us is our greatly reduced revenue stream from conferences – from delegates and exhibitors who generously attend our meetings, meet with clients and exhibit their products to our conference delegates. With significant declines in their own revenues and consequent downsizing of employee bases, they are now in survival mode and are not in a position to exhibit at many shows.

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As I have written in a number of columns, this has been a difficult year for all of the scientific associations with whom we closely work. AAPG has, like them, made a difficult choice to further reduce our staff size, for the second time this fiscal year, and once again great folks who have been with us for many years are now looking for new employment.

The No. 1 challenge for us is our greatly reduced revenue stream from conferences – from delegates and exhibitors who generously attend our meetings, meet with clients and exhibit their products to our conference delegates. With significant declines in their own revenues and consequent downsizing of employee bases, they are now in survival mode and are not in a position to exhibit at many shows.

In his column on the back page, David Curtiss describes the new organization at headquarters in greater detail. But the guidance we, as the Executive Committee, have provided to David and the Directors emphasized the following themes:

  • Focus on optimizing AAPG’s business operations. AAPG is a business, as I’ve written before, and though we are a non-profit, we must run efficiently.
  • Focus on our members and customers. AAPG has a strong constituent base of Members, Associates, and Students. We also have many customers, such as the sponsors and exhibitors and a significant number of non-member geoscientists who support our activities. Better serving our members and customers is our primary goal.
  • Focus on relevance. We must evaluate everything AAPG is doing, both from a business standpoint and programmatically to ensure that what we are offering our members and customers is relevant to them during this industry downturn.

Our members are the lifeblood of this Association and that remains true even under this new organizational structure. AAPG’s staff work in a dynamic partnership with our volunteers to create and provide this value to our members and to support the profession of petroleum geology. We’re looking to do that even better than before.

In March, I visited the Middle East Region and attended their Imperial Barrel Award competition and the GEO 2016 Conference we hold jointly every two years with SEG and EAGE in Manama, Bahrain. The students in this Region, like everywhere, are concerned about their future and finding jobs in the energy industry. I spoke to students in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain about the long-term future for the industry and the need for geoscientists to provide energy to the world for the next 50 years.

I also had a wonderful visit to Saudi Aramco and they shared views on training and technology with me and SEG President John Bradford, and we were also treated to wonderful hospitality over the three days spent in the Kingdom.

The highlight of the visit was the offer by Mr. Ibraheem Assa’ada, vice president of exploration for Saudi Aramco, of a trip to the Shaybah oilfield, located in the Rub’ al Khali Desert in the Empty Quarter of the Kingdom. The giant field has recoverable resources of at least 15 million barrels and 25 trillion cubic feet of gas. The Rub’ al Khali Desert is a fascinating place of magnificent reddish quartz sand dunes up to 80 meters tall, interspersed with glass-like sabkahs.

An ocean of sand, a harsh environment and a challenge for early explorers and, with persistence, the discovery of a giant oilfield: We all need to hold on and be persistent through these difficult times.

The world needs energy and we will continue to be the ones who find it.

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