Program booklet on the forum (Adobe PDF). Click Image for PDF.

In its first school-wide function as a separate college at The University of Texas at Austin, the Jackson School of Geosciences convened a forum of government ministers, energy executives, and international funding representatives from 14 Latin American countries.

“Revitalizing Partnerships in Energy and the Environment” brought together public and private sector leaders from Latin America and the United States to seek ways to strengthen hemispheric ties. Speakers and topics at the Sept. 18-20 event included

  • Allan Flores Moya, vice minister of energy and environment for Costa Rica, on Costa Rica’s alternative energy programs.
  • Honorable John Briceño, deputy prime minister of Belize, on regional cooperative programs for environmental investigations.
  • Armando Zamora, director of the National Hydrocarbons Agency of Colombia, on Colombia’s new institutional models for managing hydrocarbon resources.
  • Javier Dávila Pérez, director of petroleum resources for the Ministry of Energy of Mexico, on challenges facing Mexico’s energy sector.
  • Gordon Weynand, energy team leader of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), on USAID’s priorities in Latin America.
  • Raul Mosmann, manager of regulatory affairs & geology for ExxonMobil-Brazil, on historical correlations between training at The University of Texas at Austin and the growth of the Brazilian energy industry.
  • Scott Tinker, director of the Jackson School’s Bureau of Economic Geology, on the coming opportunity in Latin America for unconventional gas and enhanced oil recovery.
  • Ian Dalziel, associate director of the Jackson School’s Institute for Geophysics, on Latin American aspects of the institute’s global environmental research.

Forum attendees included eight Latin American ministers and agency directors of the environment, nine ministers and agency directors of energy, policy experts, research scientists, and executives from major energy firms throughout the region.

The final day included breakout sessions on how The University of Texas at Austin and universities in general can better partner with Latin American countries.

Participants in the environmental session identified their greatest university-related needs as training at all levels (policy, law, geosciences), help with regulatory environments, and assistance creating forums for sharing best practices. The greatest overall question was “Who will pay for our environmental projects?” reported Dr. Chip Groat, session moderator and director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at The University of Texas at Austin.

Participants in the energy breakout session highlighted as “far and away the biggest issue” the need for highly-trained talent that returns to work in Latin American countries, “so that Latin America can employ all of the energy understanding in the world today,” reported session moderator Dr. Scott Tinker.

Participants concluded that a sustained university-based program in research—particularly in unconventional resources—should be the centerpiece for graduate education and professional training.

Participants overall were highly enthusiastic at the prospect of holding a second forum in Latin America to follow up on ideas that surfaced in Austin. The environmental agency directors in particular expressed interest in seeing the Jackson School hold a regional forum structured around two to three specific issues on which countries can collaborate and work with the university to pursue financial support.

For a complete list of participants and the forum agenda see the program booklet. (Adobe PDF)

For a summary of the initial meeting see the summary booklet. (Adobe PDF)

For more information contact Edgar Garza at the Jackson School,, 512-232-8089.