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The Contribution of Geologists Arville Irving Levorsen and Walter Karl Link to the Development of Brazilian Oil Industry


In 1953, Petrobras (the Brazilian National Oil Company) was created. This started a new emphasis on the development of technology and state-led exploratory efforts. Petrobras created the Department of Exploration, which was charged with gathering geological information from Brazilian sedimentary basins and finding oil in commercial quantities. At this time, the renowned geologist A. I. Levorsen (1894-1965) made two great contributions as a Brazilian government advisor. First, he suggested geologist Walter Link (1902-1982) to head the Department of Exploration at Petrobras and second, he proposed to the Department a strong training program in geology, paleontology, geophysical surveys, and (due to the lack of skilled domestic personnel) the hiring of foreign labor. In 1954, Link was hired as chief of the Department of Exploration to find oil and achieve the desired ultimate goal of national energy self-sufficiency. Following Levorsen’s suggestion, Link created a very ambitious exploration program that was essential to change the course of oil exploration in Brazil. This included creating an organizational structure based on the American industry, collecting previous studies on Brazilian sedimentary basins, and hiring domestic and foreign geologists and geophysicists. Link, who worked at Petrobras until 1960, created research and exploration processes that consolidated national efforts and utilized the best technologies available at that time.