Letter from the President- February 2011

Any Thoughts on Membership?
So far this year, my President’s letter has dealt with where we live, where we work, and AAPG’s membership age distribution: issues dealing with HGS membership numbers, or lack thereof. Today’s charts show the number of members by year for the AAPG and HGS and the real and inflation-adjusted price of crude oil between 1982 and 2009. Again, I am indebted to Greg Muirre of INEXS for the graphics work.
The Historic Crude Oil Price Data show a gradual decline of both real and adjusted prices until 1986, when it dropped down to ~$15/BBL. The prices then remained roughly constant, between $15 and $20/BBL, until a gradual increase began in 2000, finally topping out at ~$130/BBL in 2008. Today ’s price of $88 /BBL (12/14/10) is only slightly higher than the adjusted price of ~$80/BBL in 1982.

The AAPG membership peaked at ~44,000 in 1985, and declined declined to ~30,000 by 1996, where it more or less remained until 2006 when the numbers began a gradual increase to ~35,000 by 2009. The increase in memberships came from new international memberships and an influx of new professionals under age 30 to the industry.

Unfortunately, there are gaps in the HGS historic membership data. The partial HGS membership chart shows a gradual increase from ~3,900 members in 1982 to ~5,500 members by 1991. HGS membership has since gradually declined and only recently increased slightly to ~3,900 in 2009.
It is mystifying to me that both the AAPG and HGS numbers show flat to a slight increase in membership during a time from 2001 to 2009 of high historic crude oil price levels. I do not know the reason for the lower membership numbers on the right side of the chart compared to the left side. It could be that there are fewer geoscientists today. It could be apathy of younger geoscientists today or lack of encouragement by oil companies’ managements. It has been suggested that the older average age of the membership is a turn-off for the younger professionals. This is a Catch 22 problem in that the average age will not fall if the younger geoscientists do not join the HGS. Generally, about one-fourth to one-third of the registrants for HGS technical talks are non-members. I don’t think that the membership cost is the reason: at $24/year, membership is a great deal. However, looking at the end years of 1982 and 2009 on the chart, it may be a coincidence but the memberships of the AAPG and HGS and the adjusted crude oil price are more of less the same and the values are rising slightly. The HGS has made a concerted effort during the last four years to increase membership. It is an admirable goal but one that has been very difficult to achieve. We are open to suggestions.

Members who missed the Holiday Ho-Ho-Ho-down missed a great party. Thanks to Kelly Limbaugh for all her work in arranging the party. Remember this event next December. The HGS Applied Geoscience Mudrocks Conference is the 7th and 8th of this month. Don’t forget to register early; this conference has sold out in the last three years!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!

John Tubb, Jr.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
From the President