When I first took this job, one of the neat practices that I was asked to do was to send letters to our members celebrating milestones in their membership journey. It’s frankly unbelievable when you sign a letter congratulating a member for 50, 60 or even 70 years of AAPG membership.
Think about that. While we know that many of our members typically drop their membership when they reach about 75 years of age, these longstanding members have spent their lifetimes – well beyond just their active working years – connected to this community of petroleum geoscientists. It’s a very large set of demographics that AAPG seeks to serve.
Casting a Net with EXPLORERs
A few weeks ago, I received a letter from one of our members. What was interesting was that he jotted his comments on the 2013 letter I had sent him, congratulating him on his 35-year membership. I suspect that he was going through some papers, found this letter, and decided to send me a note.
One of the reasons he maintains his membership in AAPG is to stay on top of what is happening in geology and particularly petroleum geology. Reading the EXPLORER is one way that he does that; he reads the Bulletin, too. Both, he says, allow him to continue his education. He’s still learning.
This member then does something that I’ve not heard anyone else do – he takes his copy of EXPLORER after he finishes it and sends it to an educational institution, and each month it’s to a different place.
He does this hoping to “pique the interest” of youth and perhaps attract them to the geological profession. It’s a random contact; he never knows who might receive and pick up this issue of EXPLORER. Perhaps his copy of the magazine will make it to a young person who will find it, read it, and perhaps be inspired to study geology and join our profession.
“Energy. It’s the foundation of modern society and touches every aspect of our lives. It provides heating and cooling, food and clean water, the ability to get from here to there, and goods and services we use daily. Without energy, none of this works, and as an AAPG member you are a vital part of making it happen,” is how my letter to him began, back in 2013.
That paragraph remains true today.
His note reminded me how essential it is that we, as petroleum geoscientists, tell the story of what we do. It’s something we all need to do. And telling this story is not just something we need to do with the public. We need to advocate for petroleum geoscience within our own industry.
The Future of Our Profession
I’ve been thinking about this in light of the proposed merger of AAPG and SPE. One of the concerns raised about the merger is the difference in cultures between the two groups. I’ve heard members express concerns that “engineers don’t respect us,” and then follow up that statement with a personal example of how that manifested itself in their own experience. It’s not an abstract concern.
But at the same time, producing oil and gas has always demanded a multidisciplinary approach, with each discipline contributing to the success of a project, and professional respect is often a two-way street – you get what you give
Discussions of how petroleum geoscience delivers value to today’s E&P sector – and perhaps even more importantly, for tomorrow’s E&P sector – cannot occur in a closed club. We can’t just sit around and tell each other how important we are. We must demonstrate it and share those stories across the disciplines. We’ve got to tell our story.
This was reinforced last month at the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where a persistent theme was the reality that oil and gas are the foundation of our energy system. In fact, Vicki Hollub, Oxy’s CEO, and Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, traveled from Texas to Saudi Arabia to join fellow CEOs from the Middle East and Asia to emphasize how it’s the innovation capacity of our industry – the ingenuity of geoscientists and engineers – that will enable us to meet global energy needs, and do so safely and responsibly.
Working together we can more visibly and effectively advocate for our profession.
Concluding his note to me, this member applauded the work of the AAPG Foundation and engaged AAPG members to support the geology merit badge of the Boy Scouts of America.
He also hoped that we could find ways to get the youth of today into geological laboratories, on rigs and observing hydraulic fracturing operations to get a real sense of what we do, as petroleum geologists, because, as he put it, “nothing beats hands-on experience.” It’s another chance to tell the story.
AAPG members are working to find and deliver the energy needed to fuel the world – that’s what we do. It’s a story we need to tell our colleagues in the industry. It’s a story we need to tell our family and friends. The future of our profession depends on it.