Cultivating an archive of relevant information and a robust professional network ranked first and second, respectively, in the values geoscientists most associate with AAPG, as revealed in a survey completed in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The study, commissioned by AAPG’s Executive Committee, sought to gauge the interests, roles and outlooks of geologists working in the energy industry and related fields. The Association’s leaders also wanted feedback on AAPG governance and program issues, industry conditions and ideas about how to best serve geoscience professionals going forward.
Members, recently suspended members, student members and a select group of non-member customers (individuals attending AAPG events in recent years) were invited to respond to a series of multiple-choice questions and asked to share their thoughts on how the Association might better meet their needs.
A total of 1,613 surveys were completed, 1,211 by members (75 percent), 145 by recently suspended members (9 percent), and 257 by non-members (16 percent). Of this group, 38 percent were under the age of 51 and 62 percent were older. The majority of those responding reside in North America (68 percent), but the survey generated global engagement from Europe (9 percent), Asia Pacific (8 percent), Latin America and Caribbean (8 percent), Africa (5 percent), and the Middle East (2 percent).
Overall, the survey findings confirm that AAPG’s community is as diverse, vibrant and engaged in meeting the world’s energy demands as ever.
To understand the needs and expectations of geoscientists in the workplace, several questions were asked about how and in what roles geoscientists were employed. Surprisingly, just 27 percent of respondents said they were employed by an oil and gas company, although that number increased to 44 percent for those 50 and under. Twenty-four percent indicated they work as consultants or owned a small business; 7 percent work in academia; 8 percent stated they’re students, and 5 percent work in government agencies. Nearly one in four of those completing the survey identified themselves as retired.
In terms of professional focus, AAPG’s landmark petroleum position was upheld, although just four in 10 respondents specifically identified their current job or studies as being in oil and gas. There was an eight-point variance between those 51 years of age and older stating oil and gas focus (44 percent), versus 36 percent for those under 50.
In addition, nine in 10 geos agreed with the statement that “the roles and opportunities for geoscientists are changing.” This view supports the diverse roles reported, including in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, geothermal, environmental, alternate energies (wind, solar, nuclear), energy minerals mining, etc. AAPG members, and geoscientists in general, clearly apply their expertise in many ways and across a broad span of professional and personal interests.
Perhaps the most interesting splits in views by age groups occurred when respondents were asked about the issues that will most impact the jobs and careers of geos in the future. Those 51 and over ranked level of investment in oil and gas, industry reputation and global energy demands as their top three, while those 50 and under cited transitioning geoscientists to new careers, digital transformation and level of investment in oil and gas as most impactful. For those 50 and under, climate change and carbon management ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, while the same issues ranked ninth and 10th for those 51 and older.
Budget limitations topped a list of the greatest obstacles facing working geoscientists, followed by lack of job opportunities, shifting company priorities and the loss of corporate memory and experience. Managers/companies devaluing geoscience was also named in the top five.
When it comes to AAPG’s standing in the geoscience community, not surprisingly, advancing science and promoting technology remained atop the most important aspects of AAPG’s mission. However, it’s worth noting that the group of respondents 50 and under ranked advancing the profession, and promoting the well-being of geoscientists, above technology and professional conduct.
When asked what first comes to mind when hearing “AAPG,” professional community and network led with 43 percent, followed by science and research 24 percent, publications 18 percent and events 8 percent. Those 50 and under ranked events first, followed by Bulletin and EXPLORER as AAPG’s most valuable programs. The group 51 and over identified Bulleting, EXPLORER and events – in that order.
In general, the importance of AAPG’s leadership bodies scored well, although a need to streamline the organization’s governance was prevalent in the survey’s write-in comments. The single, open-ended question asked geos to answer, “If you could change one thing about AAPG, what would it be?”
Rising to the top of a long list of mostly thoughtful answers was:
- Broaden the scope of membership/subject areas, but...
- Don’t lose focus on petroleum geoscience
- Streamline the Association’s governance model
- Change the name and/or logo
- Reduce costs for members
Overall, the results of the study affirm that geoscientists and geoscience are critical for the world’s energy future, and that AAPG has important and continuing roles to play as a curator and steward of sound science, an advocate for the profession, and a developer and promoter of a community of professionals that inspire and pursue the exploration, discovery, production and sustainability of energy resources.
We would like to thank the members and customers who took the time to complete the survey.
A slide set including an executive summary of the survey results is available to members on the AAPG website. Anyone wishing to discuss the survey and the results in more detail are invited to contact EC members or David Curtiss at [email protected].