Blog & News

Working Group Recommendations on Name Change

Mon 06 June 2022

Category: Community, Membership, President's Page

The PESGB is a phenomenal society in the way it operates and works for its members. Over the last 50 years, the PESGB has provided a collective space for building friendships, exploring new ideas and to share knowledge. Originally conceived for oil and gas explorers, the Society has now evolved to encompass appraisal/developments, and a diverse range of other disciplines. It has evolved as both the demands of our industry and wider Society have changed. 

The next course of the evolution of PESGB was set with the change to our Charitable objects. However, our name remains an issue due to the perceptions of wider society, and this is impacting how the Society does business.  Many of our early to mid-career members expect to move across energy sectors and want the Society to support them by broadening its path. We are an exceptional society, with a strong sense of community, and a membership passionate about what we do, with opinions that cross all sides of the name-change argument.

Earlier this year, a Working Group was set up to consider the risks and pressures that the Society currently faces, and to define possible names that encompass our broader Charitable Objects. This Working Group consisted of former PESGB Presidents, academics and members that represented a diverse range of viewpoints. The Group also considered all name suggestions sent in by members. 

I do realise that many of us hold strong and cherished views on our Society’s name. A name talks to our identity, and represents who we are past, present, and future. Our Society is home to many bright and brilliant professionals; passionate members increasingly working across a range of energy types that require their subsurface skills. This has led to many creative ideas and thought-provoking conversations. It is important to remember that the discussion around the future direction and name of the Society started long before COVID-19 and recent world events. The Energy Transition is the long-term driver for the next stage in our evolution. 

There are two clear choices, a tweak of our existing name or a completely new name. Whilst at first glance the options brought forward to Members do appear very similar, there are important differences and implications to consider.  In the first, a small revision or tweak may be indeed attractive in terms of familiarity and tradition, yet we open ourselves up to accusations of greenwashing and insincerity. This is unfortunately because of the close association with our existing name. Conversely, a completely new name may alienate some members, representing too much of a change in one go, but would clearly signify the broader scope for the Society. Both options recognisably incorporate geoscience into the name, and our membership covers the whole suite of surface disciplines. We certainly do not want non-geoscientists to feel alienated by this.

Both options will be put to a membership vote. It is right that members will have the final say. It is your Society. Whatever we become must demonstrate a drive to the future, as well as representing a glowing pride in this community’s past. 

The first option is Geoscience Energy Society of Great Britain (GESGB) and simply swaps the ‘P’ for a ‘G’. This option offers an element of familiarity and tradition that our Membership may find more acceptable, particular in times of exceptional uncertainty. The word ‘Geoscience’ also draws on our unique identity, remembering the early North Sea explorers who founded the Society in 1964.

Having a name very close to our current acronym however also brings risk that the Society is accused of conveying a false impression of change and is therefore not genuine in its actions.  This is an opportunity to set a course for the future so is something more than a tweak required?  he PESGB currently has members that are currently resident in forty-one different countries outside of Great Britain, and we do not want these members to think our Society is not their home, recognising that this has not been an issue to date.

The second Energy Geoscientists Association (EGA) offers a more radical, unambiguous broad reaching and inclusive option. It reaches out to other geoscientists in other energy sectors. The name encompasses our past, our current activities, and an exciting long-term future, at the heart of energy supply. It clearly sets the path to our centenary in 2064. 

However, this is more of a complete departure from the PESGB, which could alienate many more members. It may also be viewed as losing the ‘local name’ that people can relate to, and less indicative of a professional society. Over the medium term, it could lead to a shrinkage of membership levels and could overreach the Society, when our finances have yet to fully stabilise. 

This option enables a new rebrand and allows us to open our doors to energy colleagues that are exploring beyond the bounds of oil and gas to deliver geothermal energy, or to find new fuels such as natural hydrogen. Our Society has always evolved to meet the changing demands of both our industry and society. Yet the external landscape is changing ever faster, and our Society needs to continually adapt. However, to do this, we do not want to either change our core values, or to lose our sense of community. This shines through with the way our diverse range of Special Interest Groups are driven by members or at Society events. The Energy Geoscientists Association represents what we will certainly be doing in the next fifty or more years – a dynamic and exciting future with a glowing pride in our community’s past. 

For an option to pass, a seventy-five percent majority of voting members will be required. If this threshold is not met, there will be a simple choice to either accept the majority choice of members that voted for or not to change the name at all.  

I would encourage members to please have their say and provide feedback by logging onto the Society membership area. We are working on your behalf for your Society. This is an important decision to be made by members, and we want you to be part of the debate.