What is the value of the petroleum industry’s professional associations – like AAPG – to society at large?
Although there is no straightforward way to quantify AAPG’s value, it is probably quite large.
Is it some percentage of the scientific and economic contributions of Association members, or those influenced by our publications? If so, the impact of the recent surge in U.S. oil production due to unconventional resource plays alone implies an enormous impact.
Five years ago, the United States imported approximately 65 percent of the oil it consumed. Today, the United States imports approximately 45 percent of the oil it consumes – a difference of 20 percent. That 20 percent is more than $125 billion per year that stays in the U.S. economy (assuming $100/BO and 12 MM BOPD imported in 2007, EIA, 2012).
The influence of the Association on the petroleum industry must be responsible for part of those $125 billion per year.
At the 2012 AAPG All-Convention Luncheon in Long Beach, Calif., Robin West of PFC Energy said his company projects that the United States will import only 25 percent of the oil it consumes by 2025. That would be a 40 percent decrease from the 2007 oil import level, or a $275 billion dollar per year difference to the U.S. economy. Just five years ago that would have sounded crazy. And the unconventional resource play is spreading quickly to other parts of the world like Canada, Europe, Australia, China and Argentina.
Geologists, petroleum engineers, geophysicists, landmen and entrepreneurs made this revolution – and AAPG, its affiliated societies and its sister professional societies, like SPE and SEG, helped them do it, to the benefit of the world’s economy.
Professional societies like AAPG can contribute to breakthroughs like the unconventionals revolution in several ways, but there are two that are especially crucial:
♦ Probably the most important is the hardest to quantify. By nurturing communities of shared professional interest, the Association provides opportunities for framing and discussing challenges long before ideas are tested by the bit or the frac job – and certainly long before results are reported in the peer-reviewed literature.
This role surely will be documented when the history of the community that is AAPG’s Energy Minerals Division is written. Being a part of such communities is one of the main benefits of Association membership.
♦ The Association also plays a key – and readily quantified – role in creating breakthroughs by vetting and disseminating information through the BULLETIN, the EXPLORER, talks presented at Section, Region, international and annual meetings, and at workshops and short courses.
More recently, AAPG has begun disseminating more and more information via the Internet.
From July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, AAPG published or posted through its online journal, Search and Discovery, 682 individual articles and 28 sets of meeting paper abstracts (representing 3,024 short abstracts from various conferences and programs) – an increase of 11 percent from the previous 12 months.
The January 2011, issue of Search and Discovery Digest, compiled by editor Ron Broadhead, highlighted 25 unconventional oil resource play papers. The July 2011 issue of the digest listed 17 papers focused on relationships between fracture technology and reservoir geology of unconventional and tight reservoirs. The most recent digest (July 2012) had links to 15 papers that focused on shale characterization techniques.
Also, in the last 12 months more than one million individual visitors came to Search and Discovery, an open access website, asking for more than 2.5 million document downloads.
Most of the members in my age group joined AAPG to get the BULLETIN. I remember as a young professional looking at the bookshelves of older geologists like my dad and coveting their large collections of AAPG BULLETINS.
Times change and now members don’t have to have large bookcases to hold all of their BULLETINS and books:
Just think for a minute about how much information is disseminated by AAPG – and how valuable that information is.
Where would the world’s petroleum industry be without the free flow of information shared by geologists from around the world?
How much is that information worth? Trillions of dollars?
Then, finally, think about one more thing:
What is AAPG worth to the world?
Edward A. "Ted" Beaumont, AAPG President (2012-13), is an independent consultant with Cimarex Energy.