Going Global

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Founded in 1917, AAPG started as a local society in Tulsa, in what was then one of the major centers of the American oil industry. Cushing Field alone, located just west of Tulsa and discovered in 1912, at one time supplied nearly a fifth of the total U.S. oil consumption.

Since 1917 the AAPG presence has expanded across the United States to include six Sections with numerous affiliated societies, and more recently into the international realm with affiliated societies in six Regions. Geologists and geological societies joined AAPG then as now because it helped them in their work, fostering and disseminating the scientific and conceptual tools that are the stock and trade of AAPG members, and offering opportunities for the networking that is so important in this business.

But an organization formed out of pre-existing local societies – instead of being composed of societies formed from scratch using a common blueprint–varies widely from region to association to country. Consequently AAPG entrained some awkward inconsistencies and inefficiencies as it grew. Local laws of incorporation vary considerably, and local societies were founded by ornery and independent-minded individuals with different ideas on how to set up and run a geological society. Moreover, many societies have morphed over the years. For example, the AAPG-affiliated Albuquerque Geological Society started with a membership composed predominantly of oil and gas geologists, but now consists in large part of professionals focused on environmental and ground-water issues. Such variability must drive AAPG headquarters nuts, yet it must be accommodated.

From this variability and compound history a need evolved to smooth out the inconsistencies and improve efficiency within our organization, and to accommodate an increasingly diverse global membership. Thus, AAPG is continuing to morph, and that morphing has recently come into focus under the term “Global Corporate Structure.” It has many parts: We’ve recognized the reality that not all our members work for large companies by offering graduated dues. We’ve instated a vice president of Regions to represent the growing international component of our membership and to complement the vice president of Sections. We’ve opened several satellite offices in the Regions (London, Bahrain) with plans for others as conditions permit. No longer haphazard growth, these changes are following an outline that was laid out several years ago under AAPG President Steve Sonnenberg and Advisory Council Chairman Dan Smith in a strategic plan for the Association.

Changes are rarely comfortable and the strategic plan outlines some significant changes, but they can be beneficial when done right. As we change, it is important to retain those elements of our Association that have been the strength and identity of AAPG. We don’t want to homogenize the organization: Each section has a different flavor with its own foibles, structures, strong personalities, hot plays, industry supporters and perspectives. These local organizations are the source of volunteers that, in conjunction with AAPG staff, drive our local, regional and international meetings to success. We must include those organizations, volunteers and viewpoints as we change.

Yet it’s all too easy to omit important details in pursuit of the larger goals. Thus your perspective is needed. Various entities and committees are wrestling with the nuts and bolts of the changes, working out a business plan, a protocol for interactions between headquarters and the affiliated organizations. They are addressing the changes that will need to be made in the Constitution and Bylaws and in the leadership structure. The committees are doing yeoman service, and it’s important that you as an AAPG member feel that the issues important to you are being addressed. A Web site has been established to allow you to post your comments.

Please vote early and vote often.

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