THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN OF JULY 28th 2002 IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE OIL INDUSTRY

IT WAS WRITTEN BY VICTOR YOUNG ON (Anyone who knows for sure please inform us in order to credit the correct person), A PAST PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY AND IS REPRODUCED HERE AS IT PROVIDES A UNIQUE INSIGHT INTO THE EARLY YEARS OF OUR SOCIETY….up until the time of its writing in mid-2002

Explanatory note written by Krishna Persad in August 2012

A HISTORY OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY (OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO) 1976-2002

 

The Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago was founded in 1976 almost exactly 110 years ago after the first successful oil well was drilled by Captain Walter Darwent in Aripero, March 1866. In these interim years before the formation of the Society many a foreign geologist had ventured into Trinidad for the express purpose of finding oil. However oil companies and their geologists turned over rapidly and Trinidad became known as the graveyard of geologists. Companies fortunes were rather short lived. Some one hundred and twenty or so oil companies came and ten in this period.

Geologists as a group never settled down long enough to form a local society although a low individuals stayed on for long periods. Most notable among these was the Swiss geologist Hans Kugler who arrived in 1919 to undertake field geology for oil exploration and would eventually compile and publish the most definitive and comprehensive geological map of Saunders and George Huggins, two gentlemen that contributed immensely to local geology. John was honoured for his work at the 3rd GSTT Conference held at Hilton Hotel, Port Spain in 1995. The other gentleman would publish a most detailed 500 page “History of Trinidad Oil” which was nothing short of a labour of love.

During the colonial era and up until 1973 foreign geologists residing in Trinidad would join the Institute of Petroleum, headquartered in London. Local geologists were allowed membership in the Trinidad Branch of the Institute but were not considered as members of the International body according to John Scott, then Chief Geologist in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mines.

Dr. Eric Williams led Trinidad to independence in 1962 and this propelled the country towards greater national consciousness. In the early seventies saw a new breed of Geologists – the local nationalistic geologists from out of UWI Mona Jamaica – many of whom pursued studies on a Texaco geology scholarship. This period also saw the beginning of nationalization of the local oil industry. Against this background the Founding Fathers of the GSTT began to conceive the idea of forming a geological society. These included among others K. Persad, K. Birchwood, JP Scott, T. Rajpaulsingh, M. Nath and W. Lau.

Primarily due to the efforts of one individual the Society got off the ground in 1976, when Dr. K. Persad returned to Trinidad from at Tesoro Corp. San Antonio. He mobilised all local geologists and drafted a constitution. At the inaugural meeting in 1976 at Royal Hotel, San Fernando, it was proposed to call the Society the Trinidad Association of Petroleum Geologists TTAPG. After much discussion and objection name was abandoned to adopt a preferred concept that included all aspects of Geology and the local ?. Thus the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago GSTT was named.

The first official Executive was elected on August 18, 1976 and the officers listed below were elected:

Ken Birchwood – President

Barry Carr Brown – 1st Vice President

Wilson Lalla 2nd Vice President

Mrs. Lilias Milne – Secretary

Derek Smith – Asst Secretary

Tim Gabriel – Treasurer

Oxley Paul – Corporate Rep

John Tombln – Non Petroleum rep

Krishna Persad – Immediate Past President

The current (2002) executive includes two gentlemen from the first Executive, Krishna Persad and Derek Smith. As Mahendra Nath puts it, it would seem that we have come full circle as Messrs. Persad and Smith have reappeared 25 years later on the GSTT’s Executive.

The Society recognized the importance of Petroleum and natural gas to the economy of the country and felt a need to provide career guidance for young students and continuing education to its members with the emphasis on the needs of the petroleum industry. Thus the major aims of the Society were:

1.     To increase the general level of the geological knowledge among its members by presenting technical papers; holding technical for a, arranging short courses and lectures by distinguished geologists local and international, leading geological field trips and publishing newsletters and technical publications at regular intervals.

2.     To increase the awareness of the public about the importance of geologists and geology to the country by holding public lectures and seminars, by using the communications media to disseminate information and by participating in public meetings and discussions.

3.     To provide career guidance for students throughout the country.

The Society started with twenty members in 1976 and five categories of memberships Ordinary, Students, Associates, Corporate and Honorary. Over the years the Society membership has grown to now number over three hundred active paid members and the Corporate member category is now obsolete being discarded in 2001.

Over the past twenty six years the Society has offered; hundreds of technical presentations, usually trying to host one each month. The Society became an affiliate of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) in 1981. It has benefited from this affiliation through many local presentations by Distinguished AAPG Lectures. Quite a number of AAPG Continuing Education courses have also been held locally since 1981.

The GSTT has also been active in the hosting of local and regional conferences. In 1979 they hosted the 4th Latin American Geological Conference at the Hilton, Port of Spain. The First Geological Conference of the Society was hosted in 1985 and was comprised of two days of technical sessions and a one day symposium on the Tectonics of the Southeast Corner of the Caribbean Plate.

The GSTT has hosted its own geological conference every five years since then. In 1995 they outdid themselves by simultaneously hosting both the 3rd GST Conference and the 14th Caribbean Conference. The resulting two volumes 817 page transactions contain fifty papers and ninety three abstracts. In 200 saw the first joint conference hosted by the GSTT and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the first transactions to be made on a CD.

The GSTT began publishing its official black and white newsletter in 1981. These are now collectors’ items for their technical content and geological field notes. In 1994 the newsletter went electronic and was distributed via email and could be printed in colour. The newsletter was renamed “The Hammer” in 2001.

The Annual Petroleum Conference is now a regular feature of the GSTT and co-host the South Chamber of Commerce. This Conference features papers on Petroleum Geology and business updates on the Petroleum and Petrochemical sectors of Trinidad. It is well attended by an international cross section of energy investors as it has become a forum for announcing the new farmout, joint venture and downstream opportunities for Trinidad.

Field trips are an integral and enjoyable part of the Society’s activities as it provides hands on familiarity with the rocks of Trinidad and Tobago. This is especially important in today’s high technology environment where the geoscientist only sees rocks as wiggles on a seismic section curves on a log plot. Field trips have taken GSTT members to every part of the Trinidad and Tobago. The Society has hosted trips in other countries such as Eastern Venezuela, Barbados, Jamaica and Montserrat in order to broaden the geologists’ perspectives and sharpen their geological skills. Geologists believe that the present is the key to the past – the Geophysicists also derive great benefit and view these field trips as extremely useful

The GSTT is a non-profit organization that is run by an elected executive on a voluntary basis. Its aims and objectives are primarily for the benefits of its members but its domain of influence includes the fabric of the entire population, because geo-science impacts heavily on the fortunes of our country.  Geologists also play prominent roles in their community and in the country. Some examples of geologists who have held key positions (in Government) are:

Patrick Manning, Keith Rowley, Franklin Khan, Eric Williams, the late Harry Kuarsingh. The leadership of the Geological Society also plays leadership roles in the larger community and the Petroleum Industry over the years. The list below will attest to this (see table of Presidents)

1976/77 Ken M. Birchwood

1989/90 Winston M. Ali

1977/78 Dr. Krishna Persad

1990/91 H. Rambarran

1978/79 Mahendra Nath

1991/92 Azad Khan

1979/80 John Scott

1992/93 Eric Williams

1980/81 Harry B. Kuarsingh

1993/94 Eric Williams

1981/82 Winston M. Ali

1994/95 Derek Hudson

1982/83 Franklin Khan

1995/96 Anthony Paul

1983/84 Carol Telemaque

1996/97 Franklin Khan

1984/85 Lennox Algoo

1997/98 Shafiudeen Ali

1985/86 Rollin Bertrand

1998/99 Victor Young On

1986/87 Neil Payne

1999/00 Vishram Rambaran

1987/88 John Scott

2000/01 Lawrence Tiezzi

1988/89 Kirton Rodrigues

2001/02 Dr. Krishna Persad

 

 

 

In 2001, the GSTT established its first permanent office at the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Technology (TTIT), Brechin Castle, Couva. A comprehensive set of books was donated by bpTT in 2001 and are currently housed at the TTIT library. That same year the first ever GSTT Secretariat was hired (Mrs. Gayatri Mahara)j. The Secretariat handles the administrative functions, acts as a source of information and provides means of access to GSTT’s publications and can be contacted by telephone at 679-6064 or via email:gstt@tstt.net.tt and its first website in 1998 at the address www.gstt.org. The website contains information on Trinidad’s complex geology and its maintained by one of our stalwart members Mr. Curtis Archie. Correspondence to the GSTT can be sent to our mailbox PO Box 3524, La Romaine, Trinidad & Tobago or to our Secretariat’s email address.

 

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