The last decade has been good for Latin America.
All countries in the Region, with the exception of Cuba, are now ruled by democratically elected governments. In addition, better economic performance, buoyed partly by the growing worldwide appetite for commodities, has enlarged the middle class and brought prosperity to the average Latin American.
The oil industry is no exception to this trend. Higher oil prices and additional demand for petroleum products have resulted in significant increases in exploration and production activities – and higher oil and natural gas production throughout the region.
Countries from the Rio Grande to the tip of Tierra del Fuego are producing oil and gas at record levels. Total oil production in the region stands at around nine million barrels of oil per day.
There also is significant undiscovered potential in the region, both in conventional and unconventional resources.
The pre-salt discoveries in Brazil and the heavy oil activities in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela exemplify the potential of conventional resources in the region.
Prime examples of the unconventional potential are the Vaca Muerta formations in Argentina and La Luna formations in Colombia and Venezuela.
If the extraordinary unconventional revolution experienced in the United States – increased oil and gas volumes, high employment, more and higher fiscal revenues – is replicated in Latin America, the Region will be able to maintain or even increase its current production levels, thus helping to alleviate the poverty of many of its citizens.
This oil and gas boom is demanding more and better-educated engineers and geoscientists.
Here is where AAPG comes into the picture.
In the summer of 2008, the AAPG Latin America Region recognized these tendencies, and with the help of countless volunteers in several countries designed an ambitious set of business plans to better serve AAPG members in the Region and to advance the science of geology.
Initiatives developed to meet these objectives included:
♦ Secure 2013 ICE for Colombia.
After spirited competition between Bogotá and Cartagena, the latter won and received approval from AAPG’s Executive Committee, and the ICE Organizing Committee committed to make the Cartagena ICE the best ever event of its kind in AAPG history.
The ICE 2013 motto, “Energy for Integration and Prosperity,” fits well with the Region’s aspirations. (Related story, page 4.)
♦ Organize Geoscience Technology Workshops in Latin America.
The Region’s first GTW was held in Veracruz, Mexico, in 2010. Since then, GTWs have taken place in Colombia, Argentina (twice), Brazil and Peru – and Trinidad & Tobago will host a workshop later this year.
The GTWs have been very well received by local geoscience communities as well as by the 750 people who have attended the events.
♦ Support students throughout the Region.
AAPG has increased outreach to universities, and the Region now has seven active student chapters: Brazil, Colombia (3), Peru (2) and Trinidad & Tobago.
The first Latin American Geoscience Student Conference (LAGSC) took place in Medellín, Colombia, earlier this year. The event, sponsored by AAPG, EAGE and SEG, encouraged participants to create new student chapters, energize existing chapters and to be a part of Young Professional committees after graduation.
♦ Develop Young Professionals.
The Region has three active YP Committees comprising representatives from Lima, Buenos Aires, Maracaibo and Bogotá. Young Professionals across the region are working to promote AAPG’s benefits throughout Latin America.
♦ Establish a Regional office.
AAPG opened an office in Bogotá and hired Emily Smith Llinás as Latin America Region programs manager. Having AAPG staff working in Latin America provides enhanced synergy between Regional leadership and the AAPG headquarters, and facilitates additional opportunities for educational sessions and conferences.
Primary tasks for the Latin America Region office include enhancing AAPG’s science and technology offerings, expanding the membership base and increasing engagement from diverse companies and individuals throughout the region.
Clearly, the future looks bright for AAPG in Latin America. Activities planned for the coming year include “Education Week” events in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia; AAPG representation at partner society conferences in Colombia and Mexico; and showings of the movie “Switch,” including panel discussions, in eight countries.
Regional staff and leadership also plan to visit countries throughout the Region, enhancing collaboration with affiliated societies, creating student chapters and helping companies, members and potential members understand the value of being a part of AAPG.
The Region is finalizing preparations for ICE 2013, and we hope you will join us in Cartagena in September.
Miguel Ramirez is the Latin America Region’s outgoing president.
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