Fernando L. Benalcazar, a senior adviser with APD Proyectos in Ecuador, launched the first Distinguished Lecturer (DL) tour in the US presented by a Sustainable Development Technical Section board member.
Benalcazar spoke to the SPE Michigan Section on “Oil and Gas Operations—Integrating the Realities of the Social License” on 7 November. Two days later, he carried his lecture to the SPE Twin Tiers Sections.
The first presentation, held in Lansing, Michigan, attracted eight active members, some of whom drove for 2 hours to attend the lecture. During this meeting, several questions were asked regarding how to maintain the sustainability spirit and effective stakeholder engagement within the often-limited budgets of independent and small operators. Benalcazar highlighted the importance of allocating resources and early planning for successful operations.
The second stop was in New Milford, Pennsylvania, a town at the heart of the Marcellus formation, a critical location for gas activity. The nearby Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas is a strategic player in the local oil and gas industry, and the Twin Tiers Section chairperson arranged for two workshops with local students during daily activities to coincide with the formal DL presentation.
These first workshops followed a friendly and open conversation and knowledge-sharing session with students and their teacher, including two groups of gas-compression students. The session addressed key sustainability concepts, solutions, and real-life examples.
“Sustainability solutions in the oil and gas industry really opened their minds,” Benalcazar said, “and these concepts will stay with them for their future operational exposure and professional experiences.”
The formal presentation gathered 35 students, six professionals, and an 11-year-old whose mother was unable to find a babysitter in time. The boy provided a fresh perspective, asking about the definition of sustainability and its application to the gas-industry activity he sees around his home.“The Michigan and Twin Tiers Sections were a rewarding experience,” Benalcazar said, “and a clear confirmation that the oil and gas industry is an avid proponent of knowledge and understanding as part of its own sustainability.”