Geologist Sylvia Anjos was recognized for her leadership and dedication in developing and disseminating knowledge of oil geology. She received the AAPG Distinguished Service Award for 2017 from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), one of the most prestigious in the area in the world. This was the first time that a Brazilian professional received this distinction.
The award was delivered during the annual AAPG meeting in Houston, Texas, in the United States.
To Sylvia, more than an individual honor, this award represents a recognition of the company’s performance, which since its creation has sought to develop geosciences in Brazil. “What I was able to do was to share a bit of the much that Petrobras has given me throughout my career. I am very proud of the technical capacity of Petrobras’ geoscience area, internationally recognized for the great discoveries everywhere from the Campos Basin to the giant Pre-Salt fields of the Santos Basin. Representing Petrobras is extremely honorable because the company is the largest employer of geologists in Brazil,” she said.
Pioneers in the oil industry
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the annual meeting of the AAPG, geologist Robbie Rice Gries published a survey, begun four years earlier, on women pioneers in oil geosciences from 1917 to 2017. Titled Anomalies: Pioneering Woman in Petroleum Geology, the idea of the publication was to tell the story of women pioneers in the oil industry, which, until the 1980s, was predominantly male. Sylvia Anjos is one of the pioneering women of Petroleum geology in Brazil, and her story was included in the book.
The geologist started contributing to the AAPG in 1997, with the establishment of the Brazilian Association of Petroleum Geologists (ABGP), and helped organize the association’s first international conference in Brazil the following year.
Concerning the presence of women in the labor market, she says that “differential treatment currently is a somewhat subliminal thing, but it exists. To get the same recognition as men, women need to do much more.”
4D World View
“Geology allows us to have a 4D view of the world. It gives us knowledge about the evolution of the planet and species, shows that everything is fleeting and everything changes. We try to understand what will happen based on what has already happened.”
The passion for the area arose in geography classes, while Sylvia attended high school. “I had a great teacher, who spoke about the evolution of the Andes and the creation of the Amazon Basin. I thought she was the best,” she recalls. She also read several articles related to the topic.
Sylvia was a primary school teacher while attending the college of Geology. She took internships at a few companies and with us. It was very good, I learned a lot at this internship. “There I decided I would do it for the rest of my life.” At that time, the geologist recalls that she got to know all off the company’s laboratories, talked to the experts and the technicians, “it was cool.”
The geologist graduated from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in 1978. That the same year she took the public contest to work with us. At the time, there were only two openings for women. “It was almost taboo.” She recalls that she was the second female geologist to join the company.
Sylvia says that at the beginning of her career there were no women’s restrooms at the onshore oil fields, and women could not go to the offshore fields because of the lack of structure to receive them. “I complained a lot to my boss,” she recalls. Women were allowed to work in the fields the following year. “I went to a platform for the first time in 1979, but we would still come back and sleep in the hotel,” she says.
The geologist worked in the oil fields in Bahia, at Petrobras’ Research Center, and in the Exploration area (which is responsible for mapping and identifying areas where oil and gas occur and for drilling pioneer wells).
Today, with a 38-year-career at the company, she is a manager of Geology and the general manager of Applied Technologies of Libra, in the pre-salt. Sylvia started working in the pre-salt when the first well was drilled there, in 2005, which showed the potential of the Santos Basin. She helped train geologists for the specific type of rock existing in that layer. “I was the first woman in the company to take a master’s and a doctorate abroad, at the University of Illinois, in the United States,” she recalls.
Sylvia has three daughters (Debora, Mariana, and Fernanda).
Dissemination of knowledge
In the company’s agreements with universities, Sylvia has taught master’s degree classes to disseminate knowledge of geology, and always finds time to contribute to projects related to education. She participates in the “Geólogos do Amanhã” (Geologists of Tomorrow) program, created in 2010 by the Brazilian Association of Petroleum Geologists (ABGP), in association with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The program empowers public high school teachers to disseminate information on the area of Geosciences.
Sylvia’s most recent passion is the “Casa da Pedra” (House of Stone) Project, held in partnership with UFRJ and inaugurated in 2016. It is an accommodation for students of geology to carry out field studies on fossils in the Araripe Basin, on the state line between the states of Pernambuco and Ceará. The house has this name because it was built with local characteristics, with stones of the region. The activities there involve and set into motion the entire surrounding community. The accommodation is open to students from any university in Brazil.