Bring me a stick of rock! Date:

International Centre for Carbonate Reservoirs Phase II

Annual Review Meeting, 21-24 March 2016, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Jane Wells, Senior Administrative Assistant, joined her ICCR research colleagues when she flew to Rio and has recorded her impressions of a whirlwind trip in a captivating country.

It was really fascinating to watch the very professional presentations being given by our PhD students and PDRAs, and I felt like a proud parent at a school speech day!
Jane Wells, Senior Administrative Assistant

Three of us arrived early in the advance party, spending our first two days of the trip in a whirl of sightseeing, before being joined by our colleagues. Our ICCR team is a diverse mix, ranging in age from 21 to 50+, and with some 13 different nationalities amongst us.

The annual review meeting

Industry partner, Petrobras, hosted this meeting in their R&D centre at CENPES, Ilha do Fundão. All the delegates were warmly welcomed, and I was delighted to meet Jorge-André Braz from Petrobras and, Frances Abbots and Murilo Medeiros from the BG Group. Over the course of the last year I've built up a strong working relationship with each of them, by email and by video-conference, so it was great to meet them face to face.

Days one and two: Sessions

  • Morning: presentations by representatives of each of our 9 project groups
  • Afternoon: talks by invited Brazilian professors, who strengthened the links and exchange of ideas within the grou.

It was really fascinating to watch the very professional presentations being given by our PhD students and PDRAs, and I felt like a proud parent at a school speech day!

The scientists and academics who had joined us were extremely impressed by the quality of the work being done, and by the professionalism of our team, and it was heart-warming to see everyone gelling and sharing ideas so enthusiastically.

Although I listened carefully to the presentations and attempted to take notes during the question and answer sessions, the language was technical with specific points being deliberated, which proved somewhat challenging for me, not having a scientific background!

Day 3: Petrobras rocks

Following an early start and hotel check-out we had the huge privilege of visiting the Petrobras core store. Stringent security checks were made before we could don our lab coats. The geologists amongst us were like kids in a sweet shop. Determined to learn as much as possible in a short space of time, I stayed close to Prof Patrick Corbett, and listened carefully to his explanations of what we were seeing.

At first glance, it seemed that laid out before us was an array of pretty dull-looking sticks of rock*, but under Patrick's tutelage, I came to understand my colleagues' fascination with their subject.

*Just for the record, I should point out that these are no ordinary sticks of rock, and are most certainly not sweet, pink and minty with 'Rio de Janeiro' embedded throughout their length!

Organisational logistics

Getting everyone booked to fly out to Rio, from various starting points and with varying arrival and departure dates, was a significant challenge. Added to this was the task of hotel accommodation arrangements with the practicalities of getting our group from the hotel to the meetings and back again, and finding large enough tables in restaurants.

The only hiccup we experienced was with video-conferencing, and despite the best efforts of our IT colleagues back in Edinburgh, the fates were against us. Our colleagues in Brazil really did us all proud, and everything went pretty smoothly.


After the work of the day was over we headed to Copacabana beach where we enjoyed some well-earned and most welcome caipirinhas while watching the sun set. We ate some magnificent dinners, shared some great laughs and built some very happy memories.

  • From a science point of view, the meeting was hailed a tremendous success.
  • From an administrative point of view, I was relieved that it all went well.
  • From a team-building point of view, our already strong communications and cohesion have been reinforced.
  • From a personal point of view, it was a wonderful experience, and I am proud and privileged to be part of such an impressive 'family'.
  • Read Jane's full report