Belfast born Susan Morrice struck Oil in Belize
Belize Natural Energy (BNE) and it's Sustainable Business Model has become a global oil industry beacon that has made a real difference in the Country of Belize. It was through Susan’s gift of exploration, and an understanding of the power of untapped human potential that she was able to find oil where it was believed by all of the Majors in the oil industry that there was none.
We spoke to Susan about her experiences working in the oil industry:
I was born in Belfast close to Minnowburn, at that time we were surrounded by fields (I am sure it’s all houses now!). I spent most of my time outside with my friends, I loved nature and my parents always encouraged my adventurous spirit.
On Sundays we would meet up with extended family for picnics and would go to places like Dunseverick and play on the rocks, I think that’s where I developed my fascination with rocks.
I went to Ashleigh House School, now Hunterhouse College and then attended Trinity College in Dublin studying Natural Sciences specializing in Geology. I was one of only four women in my year. I had great fun but failed my first year, as I had not studied sciences at school. My dad wanted me to leave and get married instead!
Thanks to a Geology professor who said I would make a great geologist I was allowed to repeat the year and became a part-time waitress in Captain Americas to pay for my studies. It was a real lesson to me that if I wanted something I had to believe in myself, work hard and be ready to fight for it.
After graduating I was hired by an American Company in Colorado. My parents were very supportive about me moving away and I always wrote and came back to visit often. Their love, support and belief in me carried me around the world.
Starting a Business
After three years working in Colorado I realised I wanted to be an entrepreneur like so many Americans so I decided to start my own company, I worked part time and developed my company S Morrice & Associates. I was what’s known as a frontier or wildcat geologist, I worked all over the world UK, Spain, Algeria, Asia, USA and Central America.
Searching for oil in Belize
I went to Belize, Central America on the invitation of Sir Ian Rankin an English oil man and I fell in love with the people and the Country. I also thought there was oil, but there were 50 dry holes where the big majors like, Exon and Gulf had drilled wells that had come up dry.
I met my business partner Mike Usher who was originally from Belize and wanted to return home to make a difference in his country, to find oil and create prosperity. We explored for over 15 years with no luck until we attended a specialized seminar on Human Potential and the power of the mind. Upon completion of this twelve days seminar Mike and I knew we had found the answer and no longer were held back by our own doubts and all the naysayers, we immediately we set up Belize Natural Energy.
The goal was to make a difference in Belize in a holistic way. We wanted oil to be developed in a way that would help the whole country.
We were sure we could find oil but no one believed us. People would take me aside and say Susan stop talking about oil in Belize its ruining your reputation. We believed in the project but couldn’t get support for our work. In the end we returned to Ireland and raised money from small investors who also wanted to make a difference in Belize and had attended the same Educo Seminar.
However, we had only raised enough money to drill two wells. Unfortunately Mike passed away on the 24th June 2004, the year before we hit the oil in Belize. Magically in the very first well we drilled, named after Mike we struck oil on the exact day that he had died one year later! 24 June 2005. We struck oil on our first well, statistically in the oil business in takes 15 wells before your strike oil.
The Belize BNE oil story has been likened to a series of modern miracles. Even the crusty old geologists said ‘this is about something bigger than us”.
As a woman I faced many challenges however the good thing about being a woman is quite often you’re underestimated and you can fly under the radar and really work hard and surprise everybody. In the oil industry it can be tough but nobody tried to compete against me because they all thought, I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Today 25% of our oil is sold locally and used to make electricity and cooking gas in Belize and 75% goes out in the open market.
Sustainable Business Model
What sets us apart from other companies is that, not only are we the number one revenue generator in Belize but we are also known globally for our Holistic Business Model. We have won many awards including The Green Award, Employer of the Year and the Global Get-Energy Educational Award. For this Educational Award we competed against 50 countries including the UK, USA, Canada and the UAE, in the localisation category for making the most lasting sustainable difference in a country.
In addition to the revenues directly to the Belize Government the BNE Trust’ has invested 9.3 million Belize dollars in just over 9 years in education throughout Belize. This included 1,072 student loans and 380 direct job creations (not including 150 in BNE). This sustainable business model is sought after by many leaders including those from Mexico, Guatemala, UAE and the USA.
Susan shares the steps she took for their transformational Vision of Belize to become a reality. She feels anyone can also take these steps to follow their own dreams / ideals /goals and bring out that visionary capacity that is dormant in so many of us and change the world.