Letter from the Secretary/Editor
Barely 24 hours following the wrap-up of the December 1st Mid-Year Meeting of the HoD Executive Committee and Committee Chairmen, I found myself boarding a plane for Iraq. Thanks to a combination of being in the right place at the right time with a company starting an exploration program in the Kurdish Autonomous Region, and being the only geologist available with a combination of field mapping and combat experience, I was charged with conducting a field geologic program there. This involved ground-truthing an aerial photogeologic interpretation, sampling for biostrat and geochemical control, and obtaining structural information along 2D seismic lines that cross some prominent surface structures.
In truth, this was a dream assignment for a geologist – a chance to go to the field, do some original work on the leading edge of a significant exploration program while leaving the home office in the rear view mirror for awhile, and to have the added spice of working in one of the classic petroleum provinces in the world, not far from the giant Kirkuk oil field. Contrary to the popular conception of Iraq today, the Kurdish area is an island of stability, and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is making real progress in developing a positive business climate.
While in Iraq, I had the opportunity to work with several Kurdish geologists, both from the private sector and from the KRG Geologic Survey. None had significant petroleum geologic experience, but I was impressed by their knowledge of the local geology and by their eagerness to learn more of the petroleum exploration process. Despite Iraq’s rich petroleum history, the Kurdish people were largely excluded from the industry during the regime of Saddam Hussein, so now they are trying hard to catch up. There are a surprising number of degreed geologists in the region, mostly in positions where they would be considered under-employed. Even the wife of the hotel desk clerk had a Bachelors degree from the University of Sulymaniya.
In keeping with the theme of membership being emphasized by the AAPG Executive Committee this year, and the special charge of the HoD to promote grass-roots recruitment, I took advantage of this Iraqi trip to try to expand the membership of the Middle East Region. With a local geologist looking over my shoulder, I was able to access the AAPG Web site from my hotel, using my trusty laptop and a local wireless network. The Web site was easy to use, and I could quickly demonstrate many of the benefits of membership, such as our publications and meetings. In the membership area, he was able to fill in an on-line application, and I could download a sponsor’s form. The explanation of the new graduated dues policy was helpful.
My only complaint is that it was not possible to download an application form, which would have been useful. The on-line application is easy to use, but it suffers from having to fill out five web pages in sequence rather than being able to see the entire application in advance. I would suggest that an application form in PDF format be added to the Web site. In any case, we got the process going, and I am helping to find more sponsors. In regions like this, where AAPG members are few and far between, the requirement of having three sponsors can be frustrating and discouraging to new applicants. Short of revising the Constitution and Bylaws, however, I see no way of alleviating this problem.
As I headed home for Christmas, I felt confident that I had done some good work, both for the company and for AAPG. But back to the Mid-Year Meeting – many issues were addressed and debated, and several will be brought forward at the 2008 annual meeting in San Antonio. Of particular interest in my purview as Editor of The Delegates’ Voice is the idea of going to digital distribution of the DV in PDF format. Back issues are already accessible in the HoD area of the AAPG Web site, and going to digital rather than paper distribution would save some $13,000/year in printing and postage expense. Think about this, and we will take a straw pole at the annual meeting to take the pulse of the House on the issue.
Here’s to a happy and prosperous New Year for us all!