As we look to the start of a new year and the changing of the guard from a CSEG executive point of view, we are excited about our future but not without concerns.
Our members are facing the most difficult times in our history. Layoffs of geophysicists are too numerous to count, and they continue in 2018. The oil and gas industry is in serious trouble because of WTI oil prices which, combined with high differentials for Alberta’s lesser quality crude, Western Canadian Select, cause hardship for many producers. This, combined with extremely low natural gas prices, is just a recipe for a disaster.
Calgary has seen the downtown vacancy rate in office space rise to an unofficial 45%, but the silver lining in the cloud for the CSEG is that our office space lease expires in September of 2018, so in the world of zero rent and minimum operating costs, the future looks bright for office costs in the future.
Fortunately for the CSEG and the foresight of Past President Marian Hanna, and the excellent work of President John Duhault and the whole CSEG 2017 executive, our budgeted $250,000 loss for 2017 was turned into a break-even situation for 2017.
Financial sustainability is something that is always on our minds. It is the foundation of our strategy and is our responsibility. We could reference the computer skills of our children. It is an assumed skill set.
That said, the real focus for the CSEG in the coming year continues to be education. Technology will change the world and advancements within geophysics are no exceptions. So therefore the CSEG must continue to concentrate on education and encourage those brilliant minds studying at universities, and working in our oil and gas industry. From the DoodleTrain, our technical luncheons, the GeoConvention, our lunchbox Geophysics series, the Microseismic users group and many others we must continue to provide a platform where the brightest minds can learn, can participate and flourish.
The other focus of the CSEG in 2018 will be an attempt to get the CSEG into the digital age. We are not there yet. In researching the readership of the RECORDER, it was found that many of our devoted readers are international. Why can we not turn that into revenue from advertising dollars generated from companies not necessarily associated with the local geophysical business? The CSEG must also become the go-to source for people who have questions about our science. A digital world will help us become that source.
We are very disappointed in the number of corporate memberships by oil and gas companies. Do you realize we have only 7 corporate members of the CSEG who are oil and gas companies? Unacceptable! We would like to see us go on a campaign to change this number. As the oil and gas companies benefit from the education their geophysicists receive from the CSEG, we would hope some companies would be able to support us to the tune of the approximately $400 tab.
It is important to realize that through the social world, and the world of sports, the people you meet become not only your friends but often your most trusted business associates. The CSEG has a social side as well as a science side, and it is an important part of the development of our people and our organization. Whether it be the Doodlebug, the Doodlespiel or Ski Spree, these social events can only advance the careers of our membership.
So is it time to discuss membership and start a membership drive? Our membership has dropped significantly in the past few years but stays at a level that is reasonable. Many new students are supported each year from a donation from Chevron, and they eventually become paying members of our organization.
Our relationship with APEGA is hopefully getting stronger. We continue to put on educational courses which APEGA members use for Professional Development Credits.
APEGA understands this in a positive light and we believe will help our organization in 2018.
We must expand our horizon and not be the Calgary Society of Exploration Geophysics but rather Canadian. We need to get involved in the other facets of geophysics such as seismology and how earthquakes affect or do not affect our country, mining, geothermal, archaeology, environmental, utility detection, northern lights, concrete inspection, and even shallow seismic for crime detection. We feel this is of tremendous interest to the ordinary Canadian, and we plan on approaching non oil and gas gatherings across Canada to see if they would like us to speak at their functions (we would assume at no cost to the CSEG)
In my opinion, the future of the CSEG is bright. Let’s look at our science with the glass half full!! We probably will never get back to the heydays of geophysics, but by thinking ‘outside the box’ we can advance the science of geophysics on a Canadian stage and be very successful.