Maintaining a social license to operate is critical for the oil and gas industry to continue to provide energy for the world. Distinguished Lecturer Fernando L. Benalcazar recently completed his speaking tour, during which he presented the necessity and realities of the social license with his lecture “Oil and Gas Operations—Integrating the Realities of the Social License.”
Benalcazar’s tour ended 24 April and included stops in Washington, DC; Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Worth, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Grande Prairie, Alberta; and Vancouver, British Columbia.
“A conclusion I drew from these interactions in North America,” Benalcazar said, “is that sustainability matters are extremely welcome in all the sections I presented to. Having a Distinguished Lecturer talk about these concepts, combined with operational experience and actual project examples, was a novel affair that has brought a lot of attention and questions for better knowledge and understanding.”
Benalcazar began his lectures by presenting the basics of sustainability in the industry before moving to case studies relating to sustainability and the integration of the social license. Benalcazar, president of the SPE Ecuador Section and HSE manager for Petroecuador, he presented Petroecuador’s efforts to develop sustainably in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest.
“The real benefit of his presentation was seeing how other operators have dealt with high-risk projects pertaining to public image and environmental impact,” said Zachary Evans, a senior engineer with TransCanada who attended one of Benalcazar’s lectures. “Now, given, operators here in the Appalachian Basin don’t have the exact challenges of remote drilling in the Amazon rainforest, but the general application is the same. We operate in a lot of communities that are hostile to the idea of oil and gas development, and, as such, companies are incredibly concerned with low-impact operations and maintaining good public relations. If the speaker’s company could drill that well in such a remote area under such scrutiny from local tribes and government regulators, it is certainly possible for us to do the same in this area. Being able to see that comparative level of risk and implementation was beneficial.”
Attendee Steve Rogers, a senior geoscientist at Golder Associates, agreed and said he was glad to see the positive efforts of the industry highlighted.
“The industry is trying really hard to do a good job,” he said, “because it serves nobody when it goes wrong.”
“The oil and gas industry doesn’t have a good reputation,” Rogers said, “but to hear about some of the amazing projects being done that balanced economic, environmental, and community interests was actually inspiring. I wish more people could hear that message.”
Read more about SPE’s Distinguished Lecturer program here.
Read about SPE's Sustainable Development Technical Section here.
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