On Membership, Hydraulic Fracturing and Policy

While I was at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in San Antonio, it was brought to my attention that we have a Member who just had her 103rd birthday. Marie Gramann of Brownwood, Texas joined AAPG in 1948, became a Life Member in 2015 and holds her AAPG membership very dear. There was an article about her in the December 2013 EXPLORER that details her career.

What is it that makes AAPG so special to so many Members?

American Members with whom I’ve spoken typically cite its excellence in science, its professional standards and its professional community. I have had the opportunity to visit with AAPG student chapters and student leaders from various countries outside of North America who have a tremendous excitement about their involvement with AAPG. When I asked them why are they so excited about belonging to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, I get mostly the same answers: that it is the premier association for technical excellence and professional community. They have many choices of scientific associations from which to choose, and they choose AAPG as their home association.

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While I was at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in San Antonio, it was brought to my attention that we have a Member who just had her 103rd birthday. Marie Gramann of Brownwood, Texas joined AAPG in 1948, became a Life Member in 2015 and holds her AAPG membership very dear. There was an article about her in the December 2013 EXPLORER that details her career.

What is it that makes AAPG so special to so many Members?

American Members with whom I’ve spoken typically cite its excellence in science, its professional standards and its professional community. I have had the opportunity to visit with AAPG student chapters and student leaders from various countries outside of North America who have a tremendous excitement about their involvement with AAPG. When I asked them why are they so excited about belonging to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, I get mostly the same answers: that it is the premier association for technical excellence and professional community. They have many choices of scientific associations from which to choose, and they choose AAPG as their home association.

To many AAPG Members, their membership may simply be for access to the Bulletin and EXPLORER. However, to many more, it is an association of choice, made so over the years by their participation in events, professional networking and friendships, and is in fact a point of pride.

From talking with many Members, the reasons seem diverse, and yet there is a theme running through them that makes them similar to the reasons already mentioned: they want to belong to something, and not just for a magazine subscription.

The Executive Committee is working hard to fulfill those expectations for new and old Members. As everyone should know by now, the headquarters staff has gone through reductions and reorganization to continue to meet Member’s needs and expectations. Convention attendance for all associations has been down by 30 percent or more in the last year, AAPG being no exception. We are working on ideas to streamline programs and events to deliver membership value, and in some cases to increase membership value in publications and other programs. There will be more on these in the coming months.

For now, though — Marie, since I failed to get a card out to you, I just wanted to say: belated Happy Birthday!

Hydraulic Fracturing in the Crosshairs

During my recent visit to Cape Town, South Africa, for the 35th International Geological Congress, the subject of “frac’ing” came up repeatedly among South African petroleum and academic geoscientists.

South Africa imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in 2011, which has since been repealed, then restored in some areas. Some exploration licenses have been denied and others approved in the Karoo formation. The future of unconventional shale exploration there is still in limbo, largely due to a well-organized anti-frac’ing movement within the country, which has fostered public opposition to hydraulic fracturing. Opponents cite misconceptions and disproven examples as the basis for banning shale exploration in South Africa, all of which can be seen on their websites.

Local geoscientists are seeking ways to overcome this onslaught of disinformation.

Another difference cited in the case of South Africa and many other countries around the world, in contrast to the United States, is private ownership of mineral rights. Most countries have public, or government, mineral ownership. Therefore, the local surface owners or tenants see no direct benefit of oil or gas operations near them. In this respect, North America is nearly unique in the world. In fact, if the minerals were government-controlled in the United States, one could argue that the recent petroleum boom that occurred from about 2008 until last year would never have happened. Exploration and production activity was flat or declined on federal lands during the same time that production was dramatically increasing in the rest of the United States.

We see many similar efforts in other countries, including the United States, where passionate misdirection and misstatement of facts are used to affect public policy. As professional geoscientists, we should be interested in presenting the factual case for those topics where geoscience and policy intersect. I would say that it is even a responsibility to be sure that policy that affects geoscience is based on sound and factual geoscience rather than a collection of misstatements and misrepresentations of fact. Hydraulic fracturing, exploration access to public lands, carbon storage, energy supply and more are not just North American issues, but worldwide issues affecting the energy geoscience professional.

Policy will be determined with, or without, scientific input. Which would you prefer?

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