The Geoscience legacy

(taken from InsidebpTT Issue 3, 2013)

In just 12 short years, a relationship with the prestigious University of the West Indies and BP Trinidad and Tobago (bpTT) has led to the development of a top notch Geoscience programme that has seen its graduates snapped up by national and multinational energy firms. 

Founded in 2001 as a result of the need for specially trained Petroleum Geoscientists, Geologists and Geophysists in the growing local energy sector, the University of the West Indies’ Geoscience programme was established through collaboration between bpTT, the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (GSTT), the Government, and the major upstream petroleum companies, who all assisted in the development of this unique 3-year programme by forming an industry advisory committee. 
“BPTT has been an outstanding supporter of this BSc Petroleum Geoscience Programme from its very inception and even before,” says Professor Clement K. Sankat, Pro Vice Chancellor & Campus Principal at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. “It was through bpTT’s sterling technical support and their leadership support that this programme came into existence in a very short space of time.” 

“Developing a relationship with the University of the West Indies greatly aligned with the bpTT aspiration which calls for both country and company benefitting for our being a part of the local energy sector,” says Giselle Thompson whose team oversees the relationship with UWI in her position as Vice President Communications and External Affairs at bpTT. In addition to our providing direct financial sponsorship of more than TT$10 million in the past 12 years, bpTT also supports the Programme by providing internships, scholarship grants, employees serving as part-time lecturers, funding of annual visits by the external examiners and much more. 

“This is more than a financial contribution”, says Thompson, “This type of partnership between industry, higher education, government and professional bodies provides significant opportunity for the development of human resources, and the skills required for our industry which is the key investment in developing the next generation of local experts. To us at bpTT, this partnership with UWI is an important investment in the human capital required for the current and future success of the local energy sector.” 

The partnership receives much praise from UWI as well. “BPTT is a true partner on this journey of developing a world beating Petroleum Geoscience Programme, which I think we have done together,” Professor Sankat offered. “I cannot help but think of some of whom are employed at bpTT and some who went on to further their studies at prestigious places like the Imperial College of London. This programme is an example and a benchmark for how industry partnerships could be developed and sustained for the good of all.” 

Natalie Hosein, Geophysicist at bpTT began part-time lecturing at UWI in the Geosciences programme in September 2012 and said, “As a technical expert in the field, it feels great to give back of my time to lecture these students. I co-teach a final year Geophysics course, and it gives me great joy to share my technical and hands-on experience that I would have gained from bpTT to students in the field. The ability to link what these students are learning with what’s happening in the industry adds benefits to both the students of the programme and to the energy sector which ultimately benefit from this learning opportunity.” 

The UWI Geoscience programme consists of three years of study, inclusive of seven months of structured teaching and fieldwork, plus three months for an individual project usually within the industry and some time for examinations. 
Now in its 12th year, the programme has resulted in over 125 graduates, with an intake of approximately 15 students per year comprising mostly of local citizens. Graduates work in the Upstream sector of petroleum operating companies and service providers to the industry, some as far afield as Azerbaijan and Angola and many can be found locally at the Ministry of Energy and at senior positions at other multinational companies.