Interview with Dr. Heitor Lima
Interviewed by Raj Gautham Viswaprabakaran
Dr. Heitor Lima is a professor of practice in the Petroleum Engineering Department at Texas A&M University. His main research areas include deep water drilling, deepwater well design, and advanced well control. Dr. Lima earned his Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, MS in Petroleum Engineering from the State University of Campinas, Brazil and his PhD in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Of course, when I studied at Petrobras University, the focus was different. The corporate university is representative of the company’s interests. The main focus of the company is strengthening and training their employees for the betterment of the company. However, for a traditional university, the focus is on educating the students, preparing them for the future world, developing their critical thinking skills, and making them good citizens.
After some years (6-7) working for Petrobras, I was invited to return to Petrobras University as a professor. I returned to the university to become one of the drilling instructors. As I mentioned before, here the focus is on the students whereas there the focus in on improving the company’s employees. In the corporate education, there were many opportunities for continuous learning for the employees, and distance learning. For instance, we had groups from our company in Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazon, to explore the oil and gas opportunities there. That area was primarily jungle based and didn’t have a large population at all. But, I was responsible for training people in well control in that area. So I would take portable simulators with me to Manaus and train them and then fly back to Salvador. As you can see it’s definitely different.
One other major difference is that at a traditional university, you have many opportunities to conduct research but that wasn’t something that you could do at Petrobras University.
In regards to other memorable experiences, I definitely enjoyed my time at the university as an instructor. There were multiple years were I was honored by the students at the graduation ceremonies. Those are some memorable experiences for me.
During the oil crash of the 80’s, Petrobras sent some of its students to do their higher studies. So I went to a Brazilian University to do my Masters of Science. My thesis was about riser blowout because of client interest in that area. After my masters, I became one of the well control specialists in the company. From that time till my retirement, I have focused on well control. Even my PhD here at A&M was on well control. I focused on deep water drilling mainly because Petrobras is an international leader in this area. Most of the Brazilian oil production comes from offshore fields utilizing deepwater wells.
One other good option is to pursue a Masters’ degree. Things will definitely get better so getting another degree will give you more time to ride things out.