Six Down, Six to Go: Are We Doing What We Say?

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Are the EC and I doing what we said we would do? And, more to point: What do we say we will do next?

As we near the mid-point in my term I thought it might be helpful to review a few of our priorities with you, as well as to update you on the present status of each objective.

My “to-do” list and those of the AAPG Executive Committee (EC) and our very able staff and management are quite a lot longer, but five of the key objectives are noted below:

Support the construction of a GIS-based portal into AAPG’s publications, to be online by our 100th anniversary.

This project is well under way and showing excellent promise – our goal is to make our fantastic archive of geoscience more easily accessible as we click or finger-swipe our way through the infospace. We also are looking at external options as a backup while the internal system is built out fully.

Construct and implement three-year Business Plans, directly linked to our new Strategic Plan.

Under the guidance of David Curtiss and David Lange, our executive director and deputy executive director, respectively, the AAPG staff is actively putting flesh on the bones of a three-year Business Plan that will bridge the gap between our annual budgets and Strategic Plan.

This effort also entails the process of documenting and streamlining existing business activities and establishing new business activity models.

Initiatives proposed through the Advisory Council (AC).

Although not part of my original goals, both have merit:

  • Eliminating sponsorship as part of the membership process – This measure was approved by the AC and the EC, has now been approved by our lawyers and soon will be sent to the Membership committees for review and comment and to the House of Delegates for deliberation and what we hope will be approval. This is an important step toward expanding inclusivity within AAPG.

My domestic and international travels for AAPG have shown me that what I might have thought was a non-issue really is an issue, both internationally and, perhaps more surprisingly, in North America. Sponsorship constitutes a major cross-cultural issue around the world. The process of requesting sponsorship is something very different overseas and ranges from a loss of personal business power to being a direct insult. Sponsorship, even by one sponsor, is seen very negatively in other cultures, and this policy is directly preventing people who should be members of AAPG from becoming members.

This issue becomes ever more important as AAPG continues to expand globally (we now have members from 116 countries, comprising over 40 percent of our membership).

An additional eye-opener for me has been similar feedback from fellow North American members with a broad spectrum of experience, from YPs to those nearing retirement, who consider the sponsorship process a needless hassle in the modern world of petroleum geoscience; the issue is not uniquely “international.”

  • Formation of Technical Interest Groups (TIGs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) – This measure opens the path for formation of additional groups (potentially technical divisions along the lines of the new Petroleum Structure and Geomechanics Division) to focus on creation of new technical content generation within AAPG.

The measure and a second measure in favor of governance representation of these groups have passed the AC. The formation of TIGs and SIGs has passed the EC, but both related measures will be worked within an ad hoc committee to flesh out implementation and identification of potential unintended consequences.

It is not yet clear whether the recommendations and final EC vote will occur in time to submit the issue to the HoD for its meeting at ACE 2014.

Fiscal Control Measures.

We must operate within our fiscal means and manage the possibility of a downturn in our industry. Accordingly fiscal discipline is required. Large ticket items subject to EC focus are:

  • Imperial Barrel Award program ($750,000/yr) – An ad hoc committee was assigned an overview of the IBA during Ted Beaumont’s presidential term and continued into mine. They have made clear recommendations to be implemented to keep the very popular IBA program operational in the event of a severe sponsorship drought that would radically reduce spending.
  • 100th Anniversary celebration – Planning is well under way, but a lot more planning and information gathering will be required before a detailed budget is in hand. We anticipate establishing clear fiscal targets with the 100th Anniversary Committee before the end of my term.
  • Datapages – We will be working with the Datapages Board of Directors and staff toward generating royalty revenue back to AAPG for AAPG content.

Our intent is for Datapages, a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary, to continue to deliver substantive positive net cash flow to our publishing partners and to its owner.

  • Financial buffer – Our present financial buffer is about nine months of operation in a no-income scenario; we aim to extend this buffer to 18 months. Some anticipated surplus for this year will be directed to the buffer if possible.

Build new bridges with sister societies, Regions, Sections and local societies.

AAPG aspires to have productive and mutually benefical relationships with our partner societies. We’ve still got some work to do.

We are actively involved with sister societies in a number of meetings, of course, URTeC being a good recent example. We plan to engage the Young Professionals in Energy (YPE) to look for new avenues for our YPs in building contact networks.

However, friction or outright conflict still occurs between AAPG and AAPG Sections and Regions. Local societies, sometimes quite justifiably, see AAPG as an organization that shows up with a list of things that they should do for AAPG, with little in return for the local group.

Improving these relationships will be a multi-year process, but the EC and I will work from an attitude of, “What can AAPG do for you?”

So, this is where we are mid-way through my term – and where we say we are headed. Much remains to be done in a short time.

The great news is that president-elect Randi Martinsen will be taking over the reins when I am done, and I can promise you that Randi knows how to accomplish what she says she will.

Please  and I will gladly share your comments with the EC as we strive to do all we have said we will do!

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Presidents Column

President's Column - Lee Krystinik
Lee Krystinik, AAPG President (2013-14), is a principal with Fossil Creek Resources, Arlington, Texas.

President's Column

AAPG Presidents offer thoughts and information about their experiences for the Association. 


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