DPA: Ethics and Professionalism

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

How time flies when one is having fun! I am into the first three months of my DPA presidency and things are really hopping.

Being president gave me reason to cogitate upon ethics and professionalism as it pertains to geoscientists.

As geoscientists, we all know the vital importance of possessing sound technical skills and knowledge in our area(s) of specialty. But how often do we consider how ethics and professionalism play important roles in our daily work and overall careers?

Steve Sonnenberg said it well in the DPA publication “Guiding Your Career As A Professional Geologist,” when he stated:

“Honesty is fairness and straightforwardness of conduct. It is adherence to the facts. It is the refusal to lie, steal or deceive.”

Ben Franklin was quoted as saying: “A lie stands on one leg, the truth on two.”

Professionalism, honesty and ethics equal integrity. When we combine integrity and competence, they form the cornerstones of a geoscientist’s successful career.

AAPG has a Code of Ethics. Its general principles are:

  • Geology is a profession and the privilege of professional practice requires professional morality and professional responsibility.
  • Honesty, integrity, loyalty, fidelity to trust and inviolability of confidence are incumbent upon every member as professional obligations.
  • Each member shall be guided by high standards of business ethics, personal honor and professional conduct.

All AAPG members should take time to reflect not only on your technical skills and abilities but also on your ethics and professionalism. A good reputation can take years to build, but only one second to destroy.

As I mentioned in my last article (July EXPLORER), the DPA is expanding our mission of ethics and professionalism to the AAPG global Regions. To date, we have approved the DPA Bylaws change to establish a councilor for each AAPG global Region. With the assistance of the Regions presidents – David Dolph (Canadian Region), David Cook (European Region) and Joe Lambiase (Asia-Pacific Region) – we already have three outstanding international Regions councilors. They are:

  • Bill Haskett, Canadian Region.
  • John Brooks, European Region.
  • Bob Shoup, Asia-Pacific Region.

We are excited about our first three Regions councilors and are confident that they will do a great job within their Regions to spread the DPA’s mission of Ethics and Professionalism, as well as build our membership within these regions.

In July, I participated in the Regions presidents’ teleconference call at the initiation of Carol McGowen, the AAPG manager for Regions and Sections. This call gave me the opportunity to discuss DPA’s plans for international expansion.

The teleconference call already has resulted in two new, confirmed DPA international activities:

I have been invited to present a talk to the Dhahran Geoscience Society in Saudi Arabia in late October on the DPA, its function within the AAPG and our planned global expansion.

And we can’t forget the AAPG’s ICE held in Calgary last month. The DPA sponsored a very successful Wednesday luncheon with nearly 180 people in attendance. David C. Elliott presented a talk entitled, “Evaluation and Classification Issues of Unconventional Resources.” Elliott is the Chief Petroleum Advisor for the Alberta Securities Commission.


DPA participated in September at the Eastern Section’s annual meeting in two ways – I gave the All-Division Luncheon talk, titled “The Division of Professional Affairs (DPA): Professionalism as it Applies to Petroleum Geoscience,” and we sponsored a short course on “The Quality Control of Subsurface Maps.”

The GEO-DC once again hosted its Geosciences Congressional Visits Day in Washington, D.C., in September.

Led by David Curtiss, GEO-DC director, and Deborah Sacrey, DPA Governmental Affairs Committee chair, the AAPG/DPA goes to Washington twice per year to meet with lawmakers and their staffs to answer questions and offer geological insight and expertise.

Energy is back on the radar screen in Washington – the Senate is considering both energy and climate change legislation.

At the upcoming GCAGS annual meeting (Oct.10-12) in San Antonio, the DPA is a sponsor of two short courses: Ethics for Lunch, offered on Monday, and Ethics for Breakfast on Tuesday morning.

These two courses are taught by J. Cary Barton of Barton, East & Caldwell.

To further excite geoscientists to join their colleagues at the GCAGS, Oktoberfest is being held on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 8-9. What good geologist can turn down a beer at Oktoberfest, especially while sitting on the Riverwalk in San Antonio? For sure, I will be there!


The AAPG and DPA work hard to provide value to its members in many ways. However, we cannot accomplish our goals without the assistance of YOU, our members.

Please consider volunteering on a committee, running for office, chairing a conference or participating in some way to assist your society.

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Division Column-DPA: Valary Schulz

Valary L. Schulz is DPA President for 2013-14 and is with Cinco Resources in Dallas.

Division Column-DPA: Daniel J. Tearpock

Daniel J. Tearpock, CEO of Subsurface Consultants & Associates, LLC, is DPA President for 2010-11.

Division Column-DPA

The Division of Professional Affairs (DPA), a division of AAPG, seeks to promote professionalism and ethical standards, provide a means for professional certification of petroleum geologists, coal geologists, and petroleum geophysicists, assist in career planning, and improve the professional well-being of AAPG members. For more information about the DPA and its activities, visit the DPA website.

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