Colombian Ambassador Foresees High Value Return on Energy Science Collaboration


Colombia in recent years has become increasingly attractive to global businesses engaged in oil and gas exploration and production, with new discoveries in both onshore and offshore locations announced over the previous summer (2015). Developing relationships can often be complex for individual companies seeking to do business with international governments. Along with established relationships in both government and academia in Colombia and elsewhere around the world, EGI offers members a unique pathway for developing business relationships internationally that may not otherwise be available. Our history, expertise, and unbiased position as an academic institution have helped EGI become a trusted partner in nurturing these business development and research relationships globally.

EGI Director Raymond Levey gave the Ambassador a tour of EGI facilities, including a demonstration of laboratory technology available at EGI.

In Q4 2015, EGI engaged in a series of diplomatic and strategic meetings with the Ambassador of Colombia to the United States of America, Juan Carlos Pinzón, and several Colombian mayors representing their cities. These discussions stemmed from an October encounter with the Ambassador at EGI that included an introduction to EGI and our current and past activities in Colombia and South America, as well as a detailed tour of EGI facilities and laboratory capacity. Along with EGI Director Raymond Levey and Ambassador Pinzón, EGI staff and University of Utah students  from Colombia in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering welcomed the Ambassador on his first visit to Utah and EGI. Ambassador Pinzón spoke generously and openly of current events and developments in Colombia, as well as his country’s interests in building relationships to further business development in the energy industry. Of particular interest to the Ambassador was encouraging Colombia’s national oil company, Ecopetrol, to join EGI as a Corporate Associate member, noting the high value return on investment in EGI research and membership benefits.

The Ambassador received an overview of EGI and met with staff, researchers, and University of Utah students from Colombia.

Following the October introduction, Director Levey traveled to Washington D.C. in December for an extended meeting and discussion with Ambassador Pinzón and a number of mayors representing their Colombian cities. EGI conversed with Colombian officials on a broad variety of issues of interest to the mayors, including possible avenues for EGI and our Corporate Associates to engage and partner with Colombia in bringing more business to the country. These relationships with local officials are crucial to building trust and sustainable, long-term relationships in the country. Mayors and other local officials are decision makers on the ground and represent an important component of successful business and research relationships. Likewise, with both native and second-language Spanish speakers, EGI is well positioned to build these relationships and communicate effectively with our Colombian partners.

EGI also has a long and productive history of partnership and collaboration in Colombia and across South America. Several EGI researchers have contributed over the past decades to helping unravel the petroleum potential of Colombia’s principal petroleum provinces.

EGI Research Professor Richardson (Pitch) Allen is an expert in South American Basins with over three decades experience at EGI, including extensive field work in the Cordillera Oriental and the Middle and northern Upper Magdalena basins of Colombia. Since 2006 he has lead structural, stratigraphic, petrologic, subsurface geologic, and regional tectonic studies on Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil including field, laboratory, and literature-based studies and reviews of conventional and unconventional oil and gas. Recent research projects include South American Shales Phase 1 and South American Shales Phase 2 projects.

EGI Manager of Petroleum Systems Geochemistry, David Thul, is the lead geochemist on major EGI international projects in South America including guiding South American Shales, Phase 2 to it’s completion in the first quarter of 2016. As a petroleum geoscientist, David’s focus is to evaluate and understand source rock maturity in the context of a basin’s stratigraphic and tectonic evolution. David’s geochemical specialty is Rock-Eval™ and SRA™ pyrolysis, and he also has experience interpreting biomarker, vitrinite reflectance, and gas isotope data. David has worked extensively in 1-D and 3-D basin modeling to predict hydrocarbon charge and phase.

Senior Geologic Advisor Matthias Greb studied Applied Geosciences and Civil Engineering at the Escuela Colombiana de Ingeniería in Colombia’s capital Bogotá as a visiting student in 2005 and 2006. He has extensive fieldwork experience focusing on intramontane basins of the Cordillera Oriental where he worked on a variety of topics from mineral deposits to petroleum source rocks as well as engineering challenges for large-scale infrastructure projects.

Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón with University of Utah graduate students and research staff from Colombia.

The student delegation that met with the Ambassador included five students from Colombia who are currently studying or conducting research at the University of Utah. The students had the opportunity to talk with the Ambassador about their experiences at the University and with EGI and how they see their education shaping efforts to address Colombia’s challenges as a country. Ambassador Pinzón greeted the students enthusiastically, emphasizing the contributions they will one day make to improve incomes and prosperity in Colombia.

EGI’s historical research in Colombia is available to all members via EGIconnect. For more information about South American Shales Phase 1 and South American Shales, Phase 2  (In Progress and available for sponsorship), explore our current research at egi.utah.edu. EGI members can log on to EGIconnect.com with your unique ID and password for immediate access to all EGI research.