Different Languages, Common Interests
Zdravo! Zdrasti! Ahoj! Cze__! Bun_!
How many ways can one say hello in Eastern Europe? Being there
is probably the best way!
"If it's Monday, we must be in Zagreb!" This was no joke for Walter
Grün and me for three weeks following the St. Petersburg meeting
(see page 46). Walter, as AAPG Super Team Leader for Eastern and
Central Europe, has placed 13-18 team leaders in countries of this
region and helped to set up 20 student chapters since 1997. Membership
has increased by 120 percent through these efforts.
As these countries prepare to enter the European Union within
the next three to five years, this is a great time to network with
our fellow geologists and to introduce AAPG activities and services.
Visiting Baku first, I was like a kid in a candy shop, having
the opportunity to see this most historic oil and gas region.
Team Leader Shovgia Mamedova took me to several old oil fields
and the historic Atesgjach site, where natural gas flames flared
and were worshiped for centuries before either modern religion or
petroleum geologists found them (until industry was installed next
door and depleted the reservoir!).
Akif Narimanov and the Azerbaijan Geological Association were
great hosts for this stop and talk.
Driving to Tblisi, Georgia, was a pleasure after so many flights.
New member Levan Bagdavadze will be taking on Team Leader responsibilities
and is also trying to start a student chapter.
Giving a talk there was challenging, as there was no LCD, an incompatible
slide projector and an incompatible overhead projector. I had to
wing it with no visuals!
A quick view at the state petroleum company geology, however,
says this area will soon be the source of new discoveries.
Hospitality in Georgia ranks up there with the best -- Levan tried
to make sure we tasted every possible local dish and the best of
the Georgian wines. Excellent!
We had a brief stopover in Istanbul and were shown through the
Istanbul Technical Institute by AAPG member Dean Yurcel Yilmaz.
Several students met with us and were proud to announce the start
of their chapter this September.
Their geology/geophysics department is very impressive -- and
Istanbul is always a destination city.
Daniel Ciulavu is a real force in setting up student chapters
and working with the Romanian Association of Petroleum Geologists.
He and friend Triain Rabagia, with Schlumberger, have been designing
some exciting cross-border field trips for eastern European student
Mihai German, the Romanian Team Leader, set up excellent meetings
with Petrom, the national oil company, and the faculty for the Bucharest
University. I was pleased to meet presidents of two of the five
Romanian student chapters.
Aneilia Simeonova, team leader for Bulgaria, arranged an excellent
meeting room in Sofia as well as introducing me to two student chapter
Our short visit was filled with talks, walks and a meeting with
incoming team leader George Ajdanlijsky, who is looking for ideas
for students to get access to jobs -- a very difficult task in eastern
Hungarian Team Leader György Pogácsás came in from vacation for
our meeting at the Budapest Geological Institute. The building is
incredible -- built over a century ago, just to house the geologic
survey! It is worth a trip to Budapest just to visit it alone!
Institute Director Karoly Brezsnyánszky and Steve Bérczi with
MOL, the national oil company, were excellent hosts to us and sent
me away with a nice sampling of Hungarian wine, which I savored
in the Czech Republic!
The Czech Republic combined with Slovakia (not so long since they
were one country!) for our meeting through the efforts of Team Leaders
Francu Juraj and Ján Milicka. Several students drove with Professor
Milicka from Slovakia -- in the midst of vacation and record heat
-- to Hodinin for my talk and our meeting. This is the office location
for MND, the privatized Czech national oil company.
Zagreb, Croatia, has an energetic team leader in Tomislav Malvic.
The student chapter president drove all the way in from Dubrovnik
to meet with us.
Slovenia was also represented with a geologist, and we talked
about initiating some cross-border student activities between these
INA, the Croatian national oil company, organized a nice luncheon
for us and discussed their pending privatization.
The Austrian Geological Society is like meeting with a group of
old friends, having met so many during the 1997 international conference
in Vienna, Austria. They, along with the University of Vienna, are
proposing a technical training center to service central and eastern
Europe, and the Middle East. Their facilities are outstanding and
the location seems ideal.
Austrian Team Leader Peter Seifert was in Hungary, so he caught
my talk in Budapest and left the Vienna details to Wolfgang Nachtmann
and Konrad Hösch. Good choice!
We barely caught our breath before we headed to Kiev. Sasha Kitchka
is a phenomenal team leader for the Ukraine, and, I was told by
Barbara Davis, the AAPG Distinguished Lecture coordinator, that
he was the epitome of enthusiasm.
I soon understood -- but decided ALL Ukranians are that way!
We had a ballroom-full audience with cameras, bells, whistles
-- wonderful. The association was organized only 18 months ago and
is determined to be one of the best associations in the world, predicted
President Pavlo Zagorodnyuk!
The treat after my talk was a typical Ukranian dinner that was
full of toasts and singing and great geological repartee. Sasha
Gumen, team leader for Belarus, traveled over and joined us for
all events -- and I learned that taking your picture between two
Sashas is good luck! Mine should be wonderful!
After Kiev, Walter headed back to Vienna for other meetings, and
I went on alone to Warsaw where Team Leader Cezary Filipowicz was
absent on vacation but left me in the excellent hands of members
of the Polish Geological Institute (Director Tadeusz Peryt, Ilona
Smietanska and Piotr Krzywiec). The meeting room was outstanding
-- beautiful and air-conditioned! Traveling around for three weeks
of record breaking heat, it was a godsend!
Geologists from Geonafta, the Polish oil and gas company, then
hosted a day of sight-seeing before I departed back to Colorado
to represent AAPG at a meeting in Colorado.
Added to this excellent trip was the opportunity to meet the Armenian
Student Chapter sponsor, Rafik Hakobyan, and his student chapter
president in St. Petersburg, where we discussed the need for students
to be able to access internships worldwide. This is a terrific idea
-- we just need to design the means!
I also met the Russian team leader from Moscow, Envr Ablya, and
the Moscow State University student chapter president -- who confirmed
the value of these internships. He had an internship with Chevron
in San Ramon, Calif., and it was a life-changing experience in all
the best ways.
Many of the geologists and students in the eastern European countries
could benefit and would like more contact with other AAPG members,
more networking, more mentoring. I think it would be especially
interesting if first and second generation immigrants from some
of these countries reached back to contact their geologist friends,
especially the students.
I'll make the introductions!