PFA set to ‘blaze new trails’ to help the disadvantaged

The perception of oil and gas companies is not always positive, especially in regards to international development. Many oil producing regions, West Africa and Nigeria for example, are experiencing great poverty, and, in some cases, local governments aren’t doing enough to help the people.

William Divine, president of Concessions International Inc., a capital solutions provider for the global energy sector, and CEO of Amrita Exploration Co. Inc. is trying to change these facts. He recently founded Petroleum Foundation of America Inc. (PFA) as a 501(C)(3) non-profit charitable organization as a way to “encourage companies to do the right thing.”

Nationally, PFA intends to rehabilitate some of the thousands of “orphan” wells in the US and Canada. Proceeds from the production of these wells would go directly to assisting the poor in their energy needs.

There are tens of thousands of orphan wells that exit and could potentially be rehabilitated across the US. Because the casings deteriorate over time, they are considered ticking time bombs. The environmental considerations are huge. By definition, these wells have no owner, no one to be held responsible. A few programs exist to try and plug and abandon these wells in Texas and California, but they are very expensive.

Through new technology the wells can be rehabilitated to produce again. “It’s been done,” says Divine. The problem is there is no large systematic approach. His plan is to rehabilitate orphan wells in conjunction with local oil operators. PFA, in essence, would convert this potential huge liability into productive assets for charitable endeavors.

Divine also proposes using graduate or post graduate reservoir engineering students to work with digital well logs to see which wells can be rehabilitated. This info would be given to operators who would pay a small royalty to the foundation and rework the wells. It’s “win win” for everyone involved. Students get real world experience, land owners get a producing well, and the operator benefits.

The organization also has plans for providing bottled gas from fields with no access to pipelines, as well as developing oil resources to provide heating oil and road building material to the local, rural poor.

These oil and gas resources would provide fuel to populations as a means of improving the quality of life and minimizing ongoing environmental degradation, specifically deforestation.

Divine stated, “The bottom line is that making use of flare gas for the local poor just makes good common sense. This is a wasted resource and the project could be done easily and at very low cost.”

The organization is looking for funding from oil companies. “You have to live by certain principals,” he said. “There is a lot of corruption. Oil companies make deals with the government, but none of it gets down to the people. That can only take place for so long before the people get upset.” Nigeria is a prime example. Desperate “terrorists” cutting holes in pipelines is not uncommon.

Many countries can go into an oil producing country with bribes, but US laws, and hopefully ethics, prevent US companies from following suit. They have to do something different to set themselves apart. Why not “show the people that run the government that it’s in their best interest to give something back to the people,” Divine questioned.

One problem Divine and the PFA face in convincing oil companies to participate is that it has never been done before. “People want to see the duck walk and swim for awhile,” he said.

Divine thinks his plan has a shot, however, because he’s been in the industry close to 30 years. He knows how things work. He advises companies on going international and getting set up in the country. This sets the standard for other companies to follow. His plan is to use his credibility and “work from the inside.”

He says the deal is simple and straightforward. Most of these gas resources are not utilized due to the lack of a sufficient market. If companies write concession contracts with these type projects included, they create value for all. In the long-term, these projects make money for the company, provide needed fuel to rural populations, and chip away at environmental concerns – all without a huge investment.

Divine and the PFA believe in this project. “You can help people and make money at the same time.” For more information, visit www.ciglobal.com/pfa.

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