For almost two decades, the AAPG Publication Pipeline Committee has helped preserve and spread educational materials to all corners of the globe.
The effort began at the University of Houston when a visiting professor from Nigeria mentioned that universities in Africa were in dire need of technical journals and publications. AAPG Member and UH research scientist Martin Cassidy responded by organizing a group to collect publications, and the first shipment went out about a year later to be shared by several schools in Nigeria.
Since then, the PPC has made 67 shipments – 215 tons – of publications to more than 80 universities around the world.
The used geoscience and related publications are provided at no cost to universities that request them. Many libraries are in need because of lack of funds, war, civil unrest or natural disaster.
Representatives of the PPC said many personal and corporate libraries have become available for donation as geoscientists retire and companies consolidate. Many, unfortunately, have been discarded.
PPC members collect, inventory, box, store, prepare and send the donated materials wherever needed to benefit students, faculty and researchers. The committee arranges for sponsors – usually companies – to handle shipping costs, and makes arrangement for the shipments to go to schools in areas where those sponsors operate. Many sponsors have participated over the years, mostly oil companies, along with individuals, professional organizations and an events coordinator.
The committee is always seeking new sponsors.
“Unfulfilled requests for technical publications from six universities (four in Africa, two in the Middle East) now await sponsors, and some of these date back more than a year. We need corporate sponsors to help us assist universities in countries where they operate,” said committee member Gerrit Wind.
Sponsors of large shipments in the last two years include Noble Energy for Cameroon, Fortesa International for Senegal, and Equinor is sponsoring a current shipment to Tanzania.
“Since we have no presence on the ground in receiving countries, oil and service companies have also provided valuable assistance with formalities and logistics. PetroSA helped guide the AAPG library through customs and on to the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, and Fortesa International arranged logistics for the shipments to INPG and UCAD in Senegal,” PPC Secretary Chuck Caughey said.
Currently, 10 Houston-area PPC members attend monthly meetings and various work sessions. They collect donated books and journals by meeting donors at their homes, at the Houston warehouse or traveling across the southwest United States. They also check for inappropriate material, which is rare, and proprietary (confidential) documents, which are common and must be removed. They process requests from universities and prepare customs and shipping documents, arrange sponsorship, coordinate shipping and track customs clearance and delivery, clearing obstacles as they occur.
In addition, the committee extends to a broader network of volunteers who funnel new donations of publications to the team, contact recipient universities, find sponsors and help communicate with a wider audience. These include former committee members who have moved and remain active from their new locations across the United States. They also have associates in other countries: a group in Calgary collected publications and shipped them to the PPC, and affiliates in Australia organized a shipment direct from Perth to Bangladesh.
Over the years, the PPC has recorded several landmark events.
One of the first was a full container of books and journals sent to Indonesia in 2004, which was sorted by students and divided among 16 universities across the archipelago. It was accomplished by partnering with a local technical organization, the Indonesian Petroleum Engineering Association, which organized a golf tournament to fund shipping costs.
The year 2010 turned out to be a banner year, with shipments to Bangladesh, Colombia, Iraq and 13 different universities in Nigeria. In 2014, the committee expanded its storage through several moves to its current warehouse.
The year 2016 saw the donation of the former Union Texas library by the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas Austin. The mammoth library of was inventoried, crated in 1,998 boxes and shipped to Myanmar. In 2018, 540 boxes were shipped to Cameroon in partnership with Noble Energy, which provided volunteers to assist with packing the pallets in addition to sponsoring shipping costs and assisting with formalities and logistics. Last year also saw the donation of the AAPG Library to the University of the Western Cape. The PPC arranged for arrival just in time for the AAPG ICE in nearby Cape Town.
Shipment to Senegal
PPC members also reported a recent successful shipment to Senegal.
While seeking corporate sponsorship of a shipment requested by University Cheikh Anta Diop, a chance phone call led to an offer by Fortesa International to help. Fortesa sponsored previous shipments to UCAD in 2004 and 2006, and PPC members learned from Fortesa that Senegal was preparing to open the National Institute of Petroleum and Gas (Institut National du Petrole et du Gaz, INPG), a major new facility for petroleum related research and education in need of technical literature related to oil and gas. Initial requests for UCAD (two pallets) and INPG (six pallets) expanded as PPC members collected books and filled boxes. They ultimately provided shipments with a total of three pallets (4,500 pounds) for UCAD and 11 Pallets (16,500 pounds) for INPG, all facilitated by Fortesa.
As specified by UCAD and INPG, shipment contents covered a broad range of geoscience and engineering textbooks and journals with an emphasis on petroleum. As with most shipments, PPC incorporated references on advanced mathematics, IT and management skills. At the request of INPG, the second shipment included a large collection of deep sea drilling and ocean drilling project reports.
Representatives from Senegal joined a Publications Pipeline work session assembling their shipment when in Houston for the Offshore Technology Conference last May, and PPC members said they were “very pleased to have their hands on participation and input.” The group included: Youhanidou Wane Ba, commercial specialist from the Embassy of the United States in Dakar; Aguibou BA, director general of the (INPG) National Institute of Petroleum and Gas; Ousmane Ndiaye, permanent secretary of COS PetroGaz and chairman of the INPG; Cheikh Tidiane Ndiaye, director general for Fortesa international Sénégal; and Joseph Medou, director of exploration for PetroSen (a national oil company in Senegal).
Ongoing Needs and Outreach
When the University of Dodoma in Tanzania requested a massive donation of 14 pallets (504 boxes), they emphasized the request with a photo of a vast expanse of empty shelves in their new library. The academic schedule imposed a deadline to get the shipment underway within a matter of months for arrival when students were on campus.
“We accepted the challenge and initiated weekly work sessions to inventory, box, and load books and journals. A check with shippers indicated major cost savings to sending a full 40-foot container (18 pallets), so we confirmed with University of Dodoma the need for this expanded donation and the shipment left the Port of Houston on November 25,” PPC Chairman Jose Guzman said.
The committee’s success relies on its sponsors, members said. Most shipments include two pallets – 72 boxes at about 3,000 pounds – with a delivery cost of about $2,000. Recent large shipments of 10 or more pallets cost $6,000 to $8,000 to deliver. AAPG provides support for warehouse rent, minor expenses, utilities and supplies such as pallets, boxes, tape and markers.
“Potential sponsors can contact any member of the Publications Pipeline, if we do not reach them first. Benefits include priceless publicity and exposure in the home country as well as meeting requirement for education support in E&P contracts. There is also tremendous satisfaction in seeing gleeful faces of students opening boxes, passing around classic textbooks and stocking library shelves,” PPC Treasurer Bruce Cain said.
The PPC has a homepage at AAPG.org with basic information about the committee, instructions for donating publications or requesting a shipment, and contact information.
Also, for the past two years, the Publication Pipeline has had a successful social media effort via its Facebook page. According to committee members, several thousand people are reached each year around the world consisting mostly of geoscientists, but also others with very diverse backgrounds. Several hundred people follow and like the Facebook posts on a regular basis. The Facebook page is used to provide PPC activity updates, thank corporations and individuals for their support, interact with AAPG student chapters and initiate contacts for book donations or universities in need. PPC members Dan Pratt and Peter Sadler said it is a fantastic way to advertise the group’s mission at no cost. Members hope to expand their efforts to LinkedIn over the coming year.