By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Leading members of the world’s oil industry are in Guyana for a workshop being hosted by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). The event is the first of its kind to be held in Guyana.
The AAPG is recognized as one of the world’s largest professional geological societies. It is considered the pinnacle of professionalism and integrity in the upstream petroleum sector. With 100 years of experience in the sector, the AAPG has led the way in promoting the advancement of geology as well as research and technology.
“This stands as a tangible example to us that a few good people of vision, integrity and perseverance can make a worldwide difference,” said Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, Monday evening as he addressed the workshop’s opening ceremony.
Trotman was invited to be the honorary chair of the geosciences technical Workshop.
He told participants and sponsors of the workshop that Guyana stands at the cusp of great transformation as it ushers a chapter that has already begun to transform the shape and texture of its society.
He admitted that Guyana has a monumental task ahead to prepare institutional and legislative frameworks to efficiently manage the oil sector.
“Indeed, we have a task even in preparing our very minds, for the daily influx of change that petroleum brings to a nation and its people,” said Trotman.
Even as he noted the established integrity of the AARG, Trotman zeroed in on the common interests of Guyana and the AARG.
He said, “I am also quite pleased to note that the AAPG’s website boasts two areas of focus that are a top priority for Guyana – environment and youth. We are committed to developing and managing our extractive sectors within the ambit of a ‘green economy’ strategy and our youth now, and for generations to come, will play a key role in ensuring that benefits are maximized for all Guyanese.”
The Minister continued, “We therefore do not make light of this first ever gathering of AAPG members on Guyanese soil and upon this good and fertile soil I make the first step in declaring that it shall not be the last of its kind. It is a signal honour for Guyana and we are grateful to have been chosen to host this auspicious gathering.”
Trotman noted, that Guyana began its journey towards an oil producing nation in 2015. He said that the country has since catapulted – to further assess the geology that brought forth this significant find – and simultaneously moved at warp speed into the future in determining the course forward.
The Minister said that the uncertainty of oil exploration efforts is not new to Guyanese. “From the 18th century explorers observing pitch seeping, to the abandoned onshore Abary discovery in the 1970s and, in the 1980’s, the Karanambo discovery onshore in the Takutu Basin, Guyana has held her collective breath waiting for this potential resource to be realized.
“Now those efforts have been rewarded through discoveries by ExxonMobil and its venture partners, Hess and CNOCC Nexen in the Lisa, Payara, Snoek and Turbot 1 wells. These have generated greatly renewed interest in Guyana. I have even heard not so muted comments that we have now been ‘de-risked’.”
Showcasing a fair understanding of geology, Trotman said that owing to the dynamic nature of the earth’s surface and the continental crust that we reside on, many structural changes have occurred throughout the history of the earth allowing humans to draw parallels with other offshore basins and observe the successes and failures as we continue on this journey.
He said that recently, a team attended a New Producers Group Conference in Suriname where the importance of learning from locations with similar geology and its role in successful exploration was greatly highlighted.
“When there is a thorough understanding of the Basin’s geology and how it affects production, we can ensure optimal resource planning, efficient utilization and maximum recoverable resources,” said Trotman.
Further, the Minister said that for a successful sector, one must not only consider geological success but economic and commercial success as well.
“Given that Guyana’s reserves have been discovered in a period of low oil prices, it is even more pertinent to ensure thorough understanding of reservoir properties and be more diligent in learning.
“In making correlations with these basins, we can not only reduce risk but also ensure prudent investment and maximized revenues – especially given the size of investment needed in this industry.”
Trotman said that just as the super-continents once connected us, it is also imperative that we stay connected in the scientific community and among Governments so that we can fully harness the full potential of our geological basins.
“Forums such as this enable us to see the bigger, regional picture. We can hear first-hand how interpretations were made, understand the technology and techniques used, and appreciate the lessons learnt.
“You will be hearing from the AAPG’s leading researchers and delving into the cutting edge advancements in petroleum studies. All this contributes greatly to and is inseparable from efficient resource management.”
Trotman said that ExxonMobil recently produced an “excellent” teaching video highlighting the Stabroek Block and the nature of exploration activities. He said that the highly technical discussions that will take place at the workshop over the next few days will nonetheless feed into the larger conversation that the video enabled – a nexus must exist between the necessary technical engagements and straightforward petroleum conversations in moving Guyana and its people forward.
“I know the minds of our local geoscientists will be put to a new test and challenged to scope out new horizons.”
Trotman continued, “Guyana is rising, from potential to prosperity! In light of this, I am honoured and humbled to have this conversation taking place in Guyana. These next few days, I believe, shall pave the way and serve as a catalyst for breakthroughs in collective and individual thoughts, yielding a vibrant and progressive petroleum industry.
“It shall also serve as an incubator for training young minds; since it comes at a time when training, development of human resources, capacity building and local content promotion are vital and opportunities for the transfer of knowledge are many. For our part, we are working assiduously to prepare for first oil and beyond, by creating the rules, building the institutions and keeping the citizenry engaged as together we fashion a petroleum based economy – enveloped within a green framework.
ExxonMobil is the diamond sponsor of the workshop. At Monday evening’s opening ceremony, the company’s Country Manager, Rod Henson, spoke about the optimism that the company has about operations in Guyana.
He said that just as the company wants to operate here, it also wants to help build the country. Henson noted that ExxonMobil has sponsored several students of the University. He said that the company looks forward to working with the Government and the people of Guyana for the benefit of all.
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