Past Messages


Tony D'Agostino, Spring 2002

d'agostinoI stand proudly, and gratefully, the 49th President of the Gulf Coast Section of the SEPM. My thanks to the membership for their vote of confidence and welcome to my fellow members of the Executive Council. The 2002 council consists of President-Elect Richard Fillon, Vice-President Jory Pacht, Secretary Lana Czerniakowski, and Treasurer Terri Dunn. This group brings an incredible range of experience and abilities to our council and they are energized and ready to bring about another year of outstanding meetings, educational opportunities and publications.

Typically your section outlines an ambitious and exciting annual program of seminars, papers and presentations at a number of venues and 2002 will be no different. If anything GCSSEPM is continuously expanding its role as a provider of continuing-education opportunities for members of the Gulf Coast geological community. We begin our program with sponsorship and major participation in several major sessions at the AAPG in March. Additionally, GCSSEPM is sponsoring Paul Weimer's Deep Water Core Workshop that will feature surprising conventional cores and stimulating discussion devoted to depositional processes and models in the deepwater region of the Gulf of Mexico. I urge you to review the AAPG Technical Program to see everything the GCSSEPM is involved with.

GCSSEPM will enjoy its 49th anniversary at the GCAGS Convention in Austin Texas from October 30 to November 1. The section is sponsoring a major theme of the convention "Practical Stratigraphy: Emphasis on the Gulf of Mexico" that will require two oral sessions to accommodate all the material. Additionally, the section will be holding its primary annual business meeting and we will host our annual luncheon in Austin.

The centerpiece of activities remains the Bob F. Perkins Research Conference. This year will be no different when the section hosts, "Sequence Stratigraphic Models for Exploration and Production: Evolving Methodology, Emerging Models and Application Case Histories" at the Adam's Mark hotel in Houston, from December 8-11. Following the last two years' review of deepwater deposition and petroleum systems, this review of the current state of the art in sequence stratigraphy promises to be another landmark conference.

The GCSSEPM does not only focus on meetings but continues to provide popular and innovative publications such as the handbooks for Neogene and Paleogene foraminifera and our Chronostratigraphic Model for the Neogene of the GOM. We continually search for ways to improve our publication offerings so recent BFP Conference proceedings are now produced on CD-ROM and the more popular conferences of years past will gradually migrate to CDROM as sales eliminate hard copy volumes in storage.

All of our conferences, meetings, seminars, short-courses, etc. are parts of a much more extensive selection of opportunities offered by AAPG, SEG, SPE and similar organizations. Professional organizations now lead the way in teaching the entire range of geoscience and engineering skills for current members of the industry. Ask most attendees why they've registered for any given conference and chances are they'll tell you it's for the short courses and poster sessions with networking a distant third.

I list these things not merely to promote the events, or honor the efforts of the hundreds of volunteers that donate untold hours to make these things happen, but to make a point about continuing education in the 21st Century petroleum industry. Twenty years ago (more or less) when most of us entered the business, many with a major, in-house training and "the company way" was the norm. All the majors supported sufficient staff, expertise and infrastructure to train and mentor each succeeding generation of geoscientists. Many companies supported dedicated training centers with appropriate staff, technology and resources. This was not without cost but most companies deemed the expense worth the benefit, seeing the value of a well-rounded staff with a complete set of up-to-date skills. Since the mid-80's training, education and mentoring have been increasingly outsourced until most companies, even today's super-majors, maintain only a small fraction of past capabilities if any at all. Has the need or demand for the training similarly evaporated? Clearly the answer is no. What has changed? Most companies have abrogated their function as developer of new geoscientists to rely on an outsourcing solution and therein resides my challenge to the leading companies in this business.

The consistent high attendance level at GCSSEPM events (and others) shows that the demand for the training and educational opportunities has not diminished. Venues need to be booked, instructors found, materials printed, software purchased, equipment rented, and all the myriad functions that used to be supported internally still need to be implemented externally. Who implements them? Some organization employees yes, but mostly volunteers. Each and every course, seminar or meeting is generally self-supporting yet operating on a shoestring, existing only by the grace of a hard core organizing committee.

So my challenge is clear. This year, if you find yourself weighing one course over another, debating which conference to try to attend, or perusing a list of publications, pause for a moment and think about the considerable effort that lies behind that meeting, course or book. If you are a manager and considering the training needs of your staff consider for more than a moment the huge background effort now assumed by professional organizations and volunteers like GCSSEPM. The GCSSEPM has a history of generous corporate support and I believe this is because of the quality product that we offer our members, but that quality product does not come free. When you are approached to donate individually, or asked to direct corporate sponsorship dollars, please remember the section is replacing a portion of that well-funded state-of-the-art training apparatus of twenty years ago and we can't do it all on volunteer labor and shoestring solutions. State-of-the-art training requires high-end funding along with proper direction of those funds.

The bottom-line? We must continue to volunteer, contribute, and fight for those dollars, because we, as a group of individuals with common interests, must see to it that our professional growth and technical training are not neglected. If we want it, and we want it done well, we'll have to do it ourselves. I look forward to working with this year's volunteers and supporters and hope to see you at one or more of our many activities in 2002.