Journally Speaking: A diverse environment

Houston is the most ethnically diverse city in the US. It’s a point of pride for many of us. And it’s an opportunity for all of us. Whether it’s doing business, dining, or day-to-day life in general, the palate of available opportunities here is literally unparalleled in this country. The University of Houston (UH), the honors program from which I graduated in 1988, reflects this reality perfectly.

The most recent manifestation of this is the MOU signed between UH and the Directorate General Hydrocarbon (DGH) of the Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to establish the UH-DGH Data Center, which will house a geoscience data repository with display capability and software to interpret key exploration and production data and extensive knowledge of India’s sedimentary basins and fields. Houston, home to many of the world’s foremost energy companies and a key oil and gas hub, and UH, a Tier One research university with globally recognized researchers, were a natural strategic choice for the data center.

The aim of this 5-year agreement is to provide high-quality seismic, well, reservoir, and production data to the school for research and development and to investors and companies based on the Gulf Coast to encourage their participating in commercial opportunities in the Indian offshore.

The great outdoors

Despite (or maybe because of) Houston’s eye-numbing combination of no discernible topography and multitudinous billboards, its residents are also drawn to the outdoors. Whether taking to the waters of Trinity Bay to catch speckled trout and redfish, inner-loop dove, duck, and geese hunting on San Felipe or simply enjoying miles upon miles of green parklands and bike paths, if you can take the heat, you never have to be inside.

Wetlands are another key component of the Houston-area outdoors, and Moda Midstream LLC and the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) have partnered to create and preserve coastal wetlands along Galveston Bay. As an initial step, Moda has committed financial support to create the Moda Marsh & Wetlands Preserve in Kemah, Tex., at GBF’s to-be-built Gessner Center that will house GBF’s education center and headquarters. 

The preserve will include a living shoreline and bulkhead that will create new coastal wetlands along more than 1,000 ft of Galveston Bay shoreline. Construction of the bulkhead began in early March. The breakwater will provide an additional layer of protection from storms and ease access to the waterfront.

In addition to stabilizing coastal waterfront, living shorelines improve flood control and water quality and have carbon sequestration benefits. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service, wetlands annually sequester carbon at a rate up to ten times greater than the rate at which mature tropical forests sequester carbon.

GBF reports that Texas coastal wetlands also provide nursery habitat for more than 90% of the recreational and commercial fish species found in the Gulf of Mexico. To date, GBF has protected more than 20 miles of shoreline and restored nearly 50 acres of salt marsh through living shorelines. Individuals interested in donating to GBF can visit

“We are proud to support the Galveston Bay Foundation’s efforts to preserve and protect the beauty and viability of Galveston Bay, the Houston area’s largest and most important natural resource and home to both our headquarters and our Vopak Moda Houston Terminal,” said Moda Midstream chief executive officer and founder Jonathan Z. Ackerman. “The location of the Moda preserve at Galveston Bay Foundation’s education center will promote awareness and appreciation for Galveston Bay, while educating visitors about the benefits of preserving wetlands and creating living shorelines. It will also increase public interest and understanding of how nature-based carbon solutions—such as coastal wetland preservation and restoration—help mitigate man-made emissions.”