PESGB July 2018
- REVIEW: GEOLiteracy Field Trip
- NEWS FEATURE: Recovering Oil Exploration in the Gulf of Guinea – Which Company, Basin or Country to look at?
- NEWS FEATURE: Australia E&P – Production to flatten out from 2020, upside potential to be realized after 2030
Plus much more inside
The lifts in the ONE Croydon office of the PESGB are very, very slow. Every month, I watch the digital numbers flash up and down, never quite descending to “0”. This enforced pause normally gives me a moment to consider the four hours of the forthcoming Executive Council meeting and my role as a trustee of the PESGB.
For over 50 years, the PESGB has been a well-managed member-driven society with the charitable aim of promoting, for the public benefit, education in the scientific and technical aspects of petroleum exploration. In recent years the failure of some charities (such as Kids Company) has thrown the voluntary role of the Trustee into stark relief and strengthened the role of the Charity Commission as regulator. Being the Trustee of a charitable body is not an honorary role – something to fill the gaps in the CV. The Board of Trustees is legally accountable for governing the charity and the proper acquisition, maintenance and dispersal of funds in directions dictated by its constitution.
One of the reasons that Kids Company failed was that it had no financial reserve when things got tight. Larger charities in the UK typically only have three months of reserve and all are prone to collapse if not governed properly. Charities such as Kids Company had high-profile Trustees that likely considered their principal role to be fundraising rather than governance. Whilst fundraising is an important part of a Charity’s aim, clarity of role and leadership are equally important attributes for an engaged Trustee.
During the recent downturn in our own industry, the Executive Council of the PESGB had to manage the reserve we have available to the society and the cashflow to keep us running when times were difficult. Sponsors and participants stay away from events in a downturn and membership sadly declines. Hard choices had to be made by our Executive Director with the support of the Board, but the society has emerged from this period stronger and leaner with sufficient reserve invested to secure a future should the same happen again. And it will.
One firm decision taken by the Board in 2018 is the clear separation of the PESGB as a charity, and the events business (particularly PETEX) as a commercial enterprise. On 1st July 2018, PESGB Conferences Ltd will have its own Board and will oversee the commercial conference programme (i.e. those events that do not have an outreach or education objective). The Trustees of the PESGB charity have examined the legal and governance ramifications of this change closely, ensuring that the return of any surplus generated under the commercial entity is donated back to the charity.
With some tentative buoyancy in the oil price and the positive results for the UKCS in the 30th licensing round driving a new sense of optimism, PETEX 2018 is showing all the signs of being a strong conference, back at Olympia for 2018. At last count, over 200 abstracts had been submitted, which is over double that of 2016. The event will showcase the very best of the UK oil and gas industry and the resilience of the people who work within it.
Before PETEX 2018, we will also host several partner conferences. The first will be with SEAPEX, as we bring Southeast Asia to London. The second will be with the Houston Geological Society, as we take Africa to Houston. Both events showcase the successful partnerships that the PESGB has forged in recent years.
I hope that I have clarified the role of the Trustees in governing the PESGB. We are volunteers but we always welcome your feedback on how the society is being led. You will find our names and contact details on the website. Please also consider your own candidature for roles in 2019.
The next difficult decision for the Executive Director and the Trustees will be the location of the PESGB office from 2019 onwards. I, for one, will be pushing for a location that has better functioning lifts.