AAPG President David Rensink delivers the address at the opening of this year’s Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston. Unofficial totals indicate more than 8,300 people attended the annual meeting, making it the largest AAPG gathering of the 21st century. A complete report will be included in the June EXPLORER.
One of the many enjoyable parts of the job as president of AAPG is to travel and to talk with the growing AAPG membership – particularly the students. It is always an eye-opening experience.
Geoscience students in London, Aberdeen, Bergen, Stavanger and Copenhagen already are predisposed to a career in petroleum geology – whereas, it seems that most geoscience students in the United States and parts of Europe view it as a career of last resort.
The prevailing myth is that we are a low tech and dirty industry.
There’s no getting around that it takes heavy machinery to drill wells, but the petroleum industry is one of the most computer intensive industries in the world.
In a 2006 AGI work force study, the petroleum industry ranked fourth behind government, environment and academia as a desirable potential employer for master’s candidates. Yet we (along with the environmental industry) are one of the two top employers of master’s degree graduates. It is hard to resist the starting salaries the petroleum industry pays – and the cool toys.
In some respects, a workstation is a video game you get paid to operate. The difference is that a workstation is a tool used to add wealth – not kill time.
It also has become obvious that the Imperial Barrel Award competition has become one of our premier programs for outreach to students and to faculty.
♦Provides a hands-on learning experience that class work cannot duplicate.
Students use industry seismic and well data to analyze a basin and develop prospects. The competition comes from each team’s presentation of their results to a panel of geoscientists who make their living in exploration and development.
♦Provides the students with an introduction to how we add value in this business – and it gives them something to set themselves apart from their peers in the eyes of future employers.
♦Provide the professors at the respective schools with data sets that they can use to establish curricula to train future petroleum geologists.
It is nice to have a program that benefits AAPG, the students, the universities and the industry.
My travels have not made me an expert on cultural differences, and I have grossly underestimated its impact on business relationships in the past. However, it seems cultural differences are less noticeable when you are with a group of petroleum geologists. We all seem to have a lot in common, regardless of where you are located.
We often think of ourselves as a family.
But let me leave you with this thought: Petroleum geologists constitute a tribe.
We have a common ancestry – we are predominantly products of geoscience departments.
We have shared experiences and culture – we all make a living in generally the same manner.
Our leadership is neither formalized nor permanent.
We look to other members of the tribe for support, and we speak a dialect that is not easily understood outside the tribe.