Newsday Youth Lens and Comments Education Project
TT Geological Society
The first group of students enrolled in the UWI, St. Augustine Bachelor of Petroleum Geoscience (PGC) program will celebrate September 20. UWI offers dozens of degree programs on campus, so what does this qualify for? With only more than 200 graduates in its history, there are few programs that have had such a direct impact on the country’s economy.
Simply put, a geoscientist translates all kinds of information to select the location on the map for drilling oil and gas and to tell how deep they must go. Outgoing geologists have played a key role in the exploration and development of TT’s oil and gas fields over the past two decades. They have worked on all operators, including BP, BG (now LLL), Reposol (now owned by Perrenco), Petrotin (now heritage), BP, EOG, Touchstone, de Novo and many more. Many were involved in bidding rounds, data collection and interpretation, and overseeing key roles in the Ministry of Energy in the management of river contracts.
Let’s go back to 1999 to find out why the program was born. With the advent of Atlantic LNG, the TT gas industry was booming. To supply the required amount of gas, fields must be available continuously. However, the existing petroleum geoscientists were mainly foreigners and were old.
And how do we fill in the blanks for new geo-existing ones? There was pressure from the TT government to have more local professionals working in the sector. As 3D seismic studies become more formal, the demand for geophysical-speaking geologists is growing.
All of this was introduced in 2001 at the St. Augustine Campus, where he was born in the first phase of the Petroleum Geoscience Program. The state is represented by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, major riparian companies such as BP and BG, our own GSTT and of course UWI. The late Prime Minister Patrick Manning, a geologist, is also known to have shown great interest in the program. PGSC Degree in Geology became UWI’s second geological program outside of Mona Campus BSC.
This was one of the few undergraduate degrees in geology in the world, in contrast to natural or terrestrial science. As a result, students took compulsory engineering courses such as math, fluid dynamics, engineering management, statistics, and so on. These, combined with major courses such as paleology, petrophysics, geochemistry, field mapping, petroleum economics, geophysics, sedimentation and mining, have created what teachers call “numerical geologists, extraordinary phenomena.” The degree was the first overseas recognition by the London Geological Society.
Small class sizes (average 15) allow for one-on-one interactions with unknown professors at most universities. Each student has probably developed at least a dozen complete presentations, a great preparation tool for the world of work. Field trips abounded on weekends and took students to all parts of Trinidad, especially the southern basin (where there are many productive fields) and the huge sand dunes along the coast of Mayaro.
Another special feature was the mandatory exercises during the July / August vacation. Students have had wonderful opportunities to work directly with operators. During the last year, a project with the company will be conducted with industry supervisors, and students will visit the company one day a week. It was a wonderful mix of university life and industry that produced graduates who could hit the ground running.
As a result of the direct work of PGG graduates, countless natural gas and cube shoes have been discovered, built and produced. As many of the national and international multi-company oil company halls expand into technical positions as senior managers or to various positions, all leave their mark on the sector.
Globally, many have taken the opportunity to study for a master’s degree and a doctorate at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Graduates competed internationally, and marked in all corners of the globe – Alaska, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, China, Malaysia, England, Azerbaijan, West Africa, Venezuela, Canada, Belize, Norway, Saudi Arabia and of course here in TT. Many are even working in the hottest new basins in Guyana and Suriname.
There were significant challenges during the program’s lifetime. It has experienced at least three oil and gas economic failures (in 2008, 2014 and most recently in 2020). With each disaster, the financial battle is intensifying a bit, and job opportunities for graduates are declining. In the last five years, in particular, students have struggled to find work as geographers, and many have chosen to switch to other careers. One of the pieces of advice, once completed the program, is the ability to integrate different and complex data sets into integrated models. This is useful as a geoscientist but has no value in any profession. Think of your degree as a key to unlocking any career you can think of.
The program is improving, and in the coming years it will be able to focus less on petroleum and more on geoscience, reflecting the industry’s drive to green production.
GSTT seeks the recognition and appreciation of all students, faculty, administrators and program sponsors over the past years for shaping our country’s energy landscape.