The establishment of Ukrainian Association of Geologists was logical rather than accidental, given the role and place of geology in the State. The association has inherited and developed the huge potential of Ukraine's geological industry, which evolved over the centuries. It is hardly possible to understand the success story of UAG without knowing the history of the industry.
At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the territory of modern Ukraine was divided between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Its western part, which was part of Austria-Hungary, became the birthplace of the world's oil industry. It was here, in Lviv, that the oil refining process was invented, and the first kerosene lamp was designed (developed by Jan Zech and Ignacy Łukasiewicz and executed by Adam Bratkowski, a local tinsmith). The inventions triggered a real 'household revolution', having replaced candles and oil lamps with kerosene lighting. At the same time, they revealed the global need for a powerful oil industry. Later, near Boryslav, oil production began on an industrial scale, and numerous oil fields emerged.
In 1877, I. Łukasiewicz initiated the First World Petroleum Congress, which was held in Lviv. Later on, in 1882, also in Lviv, the world's first professional magazine covering oil industry issues was published under the title "Hirnyk" (the Ukrainian for 'Miner').
Concurrently, the industrial development in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, which were part of the Russian Empire, was mainly based on the natural resources of Kryvyi Rih and Donbass areas. The resource-based coal, iron ore as well as metallurgical and machine-building industries developed, and a railway network was built. An allegorical image of the industrial revolution taking place during that period and the underground riches of Donbass was the painting "Three Princesses of the Underworld" by the famous artist Viktor Vasnetsov.
The three princesses – Gold, Copper and Coal – were associated with the minerals of Donbass. The princesses differ in age. The oldest of them is Copper, the middle is Gold, and the youngest is Coal. It is in this order that the mankind has mastered the natural resources.
The First World War led to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires, while Ukraine gained its chance to develop independently. In 1916, the Kharkiv Geological Society was founded. Its successor was the Ukrainian Association of Geologits (UAG). In 1918, the Ukrainian Geological Committee (with V.I. Luchytsky as the first director) was founded. The latter became the starting point for the independent Ukrainian geological survey. However, Ukraine was soon transformed into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and became part of the established USSR. After that, the Ukrainian geological industry, mining and industrial enterprises were integrated into a single economic complex of the Soviet Union for a long time. Although mining and geological enterprises had some autonomy in the Ukrainian SSR, being subordinated to the republican ministries and departments, they were actually run from Moscow, where the seven- and five-year economic development plans were made and approved, and the state budgets were formed for the Soviet Union and the union republics. Some enterprises engaged in strategic areas for the USSR (deposits of radioactive elements) were directly subordinated to Moscow (Kirovgeologiya Association, Kyiv). Geological science was concentrated in state branch research institutes, institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, and higher educational institutions. All enterprises, institutions and establishments were state-owned, and their financing in the context of the so-called planned economy was centralized.
The mentioned structure had certain advantages for the study of subsoil, as it provided for strict adherence to the phases and stages in the exploration work conducted. Due to that, a per-sheet geological mapping was carried out at a scale of 1:200,000 throughout the Ukrainian SSR, and at a scale of 1:50,000 - 1:25,000 within the Ukrainian Shield, the Donetsk Basin, the Carpathians, and the mountain Crimea. Exploration and prospecting works were carried out and a large number of deposits of various minerals were discovered and explored, with the relevant reserves included in the state balance.
An important geological survey result was the discovery of oil and gas potential of the Dnieper-Donets basin in 1936 (F.O. Lysenko), which marked the beginning discovery of large oil and gas fields after World War II. In 1950, the Shebelynka gas condensate field, one of the largest in Europe, was discovered there (with 650 billion cubic meters of initial gas reserves). After the operation of that and other deposits began in 1975, the annual production reached a record high of 68 billion cubic meters. The construction of large oil and gas transportation networks passing through Ukraine's territory (the Druzhba Oil Pipeline, the Soyuz, Progress, Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhhorod Gas Pipelines) and the Underground Gas Storage System (UGS) have made Ukraine a major transit country and contributed to the construction of gas pipelines of local importance and the country's further large-scale gasification. Those events were unique and epoch-making not only for Ukraine, but also for the entire former Soviet Union as well as Europe. It was from the territory of Ukraine that the world's first interstate natural gas supplies were launched in 1945 (from the Dashavske and Oparske gas fields to Poland).
At the end of the twentieth century, more than 8,000 deposits with 97 types of minerals were discovered in Ukraine. They contributed to the emergence of state exploration enterprises, factories producing tools and equipment, scientific and research institutes, higher and secondary educational institutions. Thousands of Ukrainian specialists worked in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
However, the planned economy based on state ownership proved inefficient and had a negative impact on the environment. The pursuit of meeting the targets led to a decrease in the quality and efficiency of exploration work and entailed unreasonable costs. It is worth mentioning that the main focus during the drilling was not on its quality and geological results, but on the number of drilled running meters, which were to meet the targets. The same applied to other types of exploration work, such as seismic exploration.
The Soviet leadership disregarded or almost completely ignored the environmental consequences of exploration and exploitation of mineral deposits. For example the underground nuclear explosions made to liquidate an open fountain at the West Khrestishche gas condensate field in 1972 (Kharkiv region) and to prevent methane emissions at the Yunkom Coal Mine in the Donets Basin in 1979 (Donetsk region). Sulfur mining by underground smelting at the Rozdol deposit in Prykarpattia (Ciscarpathia) led to severe environmental damage. Soils and groundwater were contaminated uncontrollably with oil products in the areas of military facilities (the cities of Bila Tserkva, Uzyn, Pryluky, Poltava, Mykolayiv) up to the formation of technogenic deposits. The giant quarry piles, the heaps of the Donets and Lviv-Volyn Coal Basins have remained a kind of monuments to the Soviet era and planned economy.
The inefficient planned economy of the Soviet Union and the union republics forced the union leadership to embark upon economic reforms. However, it was done too late and half-heartedly. Moreover, an accident happened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, which proved the non-viability of the centralized management system. The unsuccessful attempt of perestroika led to an economic collapse, which prompted the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the restoration of independent states, including Ukraine. The young Ukrainian state began a painful transition from a planned to a market economy. State funding was sharply reduced, exploration companies were shut down, and factories manufacturing equipment for the industry lost orders, while highly qualified specialists lost their jobs in dozens of thousands.
The most threatening trends were the collapse of production teams and the degradation of powerful industrial and scientific schools. As exploration work was reduced, the extraction of own minerals decreased, making Ukraine's energy dependence more obvious. A large number of industrial enterprises ended up on the verge of bankruptcy due to outdated stationary assets and engineering developments as well as high energy consumption of industrial enterprises and low quality of products that were not in demand in foreign markets. The only way out of that situation was the privatization of former state-owned enterprises and the establishment of non-state-owned enterprises. The early 1990s were definitely the most favourable period for the novel changes.
It was at this time in the city of Kyiv, on February 23, 2000, that the All-Ukrainian public organization " Ukrainian Association of Geologists" was created and registered with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, which considers itself the legal successor of the Kharkiv Geological Society, established in 1916.