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This month’s column, a look at the current state of affairs for the Latin America Region, was prepared by Carlos Jorge Abreu, professor of reservoir geology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the AAPG Region’s president.
This short article reports the good moment Latin America enjoys concerning oil exploration and the consequences on the activities involving professional associations.
There are three main reasons why times have improved throughout the Region in recent years:
- Important discoveries, such as a large gas field in the Santos Basin, Southeast Brazil, a giant gas field in a frontier area in Bolivia and oil fields in Peru.
- Increasing oil prices.
- Reduced investment risk, because companies are merging to form consortia.
In Brazil, the perspective of self-sufficiency in oil supply to be attained in a few months is justified. Petrobras works to incorporate at least 1,000 million barrels to its reserves every year.
Another good point, Colombia has simplified the rules on block licensing for exploration.
PDVSA in Venezuela also is expanding its participation in exploration with Caribbean countries, and also is joining Petrobras to build a refinery in northeastern Brazil.
Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia and Ecuador are also promoting their increasing participation in the market.
These good times for Latin America’s petroleum industry naturally encourage the participation of the professional geoscience associations in a region that is well known for its need of experts and detailed geological studies.
The anticipated increases in investment in research projects and in the training of local people (universities and institutes) can be a sustainable way of maintaining qualified local staffs while increasing geological knowledge.
Efforts already have been made by professional associations, such as the recent Forum on Paleozoic Basins, organized by the Brazilian Association of Petroleum Geologists. This event, supported by AAPG and held in Rio de Janeiro last August, attracted more than 200 geologists and geophysicists with proven expertise in Paleozoic terrains.
Another important meeting, the Ninth International Congress of the Brazilian Geophysical Society, was held last September in Salvador, Brazil, a locale that last October also was host to the third Brazilian Congress of Research and Development in Oil and Gas, an interdisciplinary event sponsored by the Brazilian Association of Oil and Gas and the Brazilian Institute of Petroleum.
Besides industry participation, this congress strongly emphasizes the participation of academic researchers and students. The National Petroleum Agency has supported this event from the beginning.
During the next year several events involving international geoscientists and related professionals are going to be held in Colombia, Mexico and Argentina, and the support of the AAPG will be crucial.
There are 757 AAPG members in Latin America -- not an unusually large number, but that’s perhaps due to at least two reasons:
- There is a general reasoning that the oil companies -- basically state oil companies -- already have subscriptions and access to AAPG magazines, memoirs and other publications, which can be used by their employees.
- There is still a fear to pay the annual dues with a credit card, because some believe it is not a fully safe way of payment.
On the other hand, the growing participation of private companies in the region’s oil industry is opening a good opportunity for the AAPG to attract new members.
And, perhaps best of all, the Student Chapters are booming, thanks to AAPG’s support.