The workshops and panel discussions were part of the World Shale Oil & Gas: Latin America Summit, sponsored by the major governments and industry-related companies in the region. According to Sutherlin, the exploration of shale oil and gas has been "especially intriguing" over the last decade, as proven reserves have declined and increased demand from China and India have increased prices. Historically, shale oil and gas development has been more expensive than conventional exploration and involves a different set of environmental regulations, he said.
"In almost every place in the world that has committed to shale development, water management presents a two fold concern: usage and discharge quality. So, whether the project is in Estonia, China, Spain or Argentina, the issues are quite similar," Sutherlin said.
Sutherlin has been researching and consulting in the area of water management--starting with the Middle East and the Gulf of Mexico--for almost his entire career. At this conference, he was the opening day speaker. He then held a workshop for six hours, where he answered questions and worked with government and industry personnel mainly from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela to address regulatory, technical and compliance concerns. The following days Sutherlin lead panel discussions on compliance and public involvement for industry.
Sutherlin added, "Regardless of the country, issues involving the rights of farmers, riparian neighbors or indigenous peoples are mostly the same. I was able to draw on my experiences and background from the U.S., Europe and other Latin American countries to identify alternatives for those required to produce energy and protect the environment."
Sutherlin earned a B.A. from Louisiana Tech University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans. He has taught at ULM for more than six years.