Oral Histories

Listen as some of the oil and gas industry’s most significant contributors discuss the impact that innovation and technology have made in meeting the challenges of producing energy faster, cheaper, and safer in the 20th century.

For more oral histories of the petroleum engineering industry, visit the Engineering and Technology History Wiki.

Alain Gringarten

Dr.Gringarten holds the Chair of Petroleum Engineering at Imperial College in London, where he is also director of the Centre for Petroleum Studies.  He has made major contributions in many breakthrough advances in well test interpretation, including: the use of Greens functions; the "Gringarten type curves" for wells with wellbore storage and skin, fractured wells, and wells with double porosity behavior; the first major commercial computer-aided interpretation software; and a well-test interpretation methodology which has become standard in the oil industry.  He was also an early pioneer of multidisciplinary studies, both in industry and in academia.  He was responsible for the development and world-wide implementation of well test interpretation services and was in charge of PVT laboratories at Flopetrol-Schlumberger in Melun, France.  Dr. Gringarten is a recognized expert in well test analysis and has authored or coauthored more than 80 technical papers.

Bill Rehm

World renowned for his work in well control, Bill Rehm developed well control and pressure measurements from electric logs. He wrote the first manual accepted by the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) on well control for drillers and supervisors and also wrote five manuals on well control for drilling contractors that were accepted by the US Geological Survey. In addition, he taught well control courses for many operators and drilling contractors and conducted the first introductory well control school for the MMS. Contributing to some of the most technologically significant advancements in the industry in recent years, Rehm has worked in the area of high-pressure operations and directional drilling, developed slimhole and slick horizontal drilling tools, and developed math models for the turning radius and performance of the tools. A recognized expert in underbalanced drilling, Rehm developed some of the original plans for underbalanced drilling in the Austin Chalk, and created new drilling motors as well as other mechanical equipment and software.

Fikri Kuchuk

Fikri Kuchuk, a Schlumberger Fellow, is currently Chief Reservoir Engineer for Schlumberger Testing Services.  Dr. Kuchuk has 40 years of experience in reservoir characterization, engineering, and management, and is an internationally-recognized expert on pressure transient formation and well testing. He has made significant contributions to the theory and technology in the areas of formation and well testing interpretation ; history matching ; and uncertainty in reservoir description and reservoir performance predictions.  He has published and presented more than 150 technical papers on fluid flow in porous media; formation evaluation; pressure transient well testing; production logging; wireline formation testers; horizontal and multilateral well placement and performance; permanent reservoir monitoring; water conformance and control; and reservoir engineering and management. 

G. Paul Willhite

G. Paul Willhite is the Ross H. Forney Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Kansas where he has taught petroleum and chemical engineering courses since joining the faculty in 1969. His research program includes studies on waterflooding, surfactant and polymer flooding, water control using gelled polymer systems and carbon dioxide miscible flooding. He is the Co founder of the Tertiary Oil Recovery Project at KU and served as Co Director from 1974-2009. Prior to joining the University of Kansas, he conducted research in the Production Research Division of Continental Oil Company from 1962-1969. He is the author of the SPE Textbook:”Waterflooding” published in 1986 and coauthor of the SPE Textbook:” Enhanced Oil Recovery” published in 1998. He co edited the SPE Speed Up Series on Surfactant Flooding (2011) and Polymer Flooding (2011) and serves as an Associate Editor, SPEJ. He is the recipient of the SPE John Franklin Carll Award and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Iowa State University (1959) and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University (1962).

Khalid Aziz

Dr. Aziz is the Otto N. Miller Professor of Earth Sciences and Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Stanford University. He served as professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary where he established the Computer Modeling Group and managed it for 5 years. He has also served on the faculty of the University of Alberta and as the Chief Engineer of Karachi Gas Co. Ltd. At Stanford, Aziz served as the Associate Dean for Research (School of Earth Sciences) and Chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department. His research interests include reservoir simulation, modeling of advanced wells, multiphase flow in pipes, and natural gas engineering. He graduated from the University of Michigan (BSE), University of Alberta (BSc and MSc), and Rice U. (PhD). He has been awarded Honorary Membership in the Society of Petroleum Engineers and has published more than 150 technical papers, two books and one monograph. He is a frequent consultant to major oil and gas companies and government agencies, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering of the United States and the European Academy of Sciences.

Larry Lake

Larry W. Lake is chair of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering and director of the Enhanced Oil Recovery Research Program at the University of Texas at Austin.  He is a specialist in reservoir engineering and geochemistry, specifically focusing on enhanced oil recovery and reservoir characterization. Dr. Lake’s work in quantifying the effects of geochemical interactions and flow variability for resource recovery is now widely applied by industry. His reservoir characterization work includes demonstrating that different geological depositional processes produce flow properties that can be statistically described. He was also among the first to recognize the importance of rock-fluid chemical interactions on enhanced oil recovery, and his work has been crucial in developing more efficient methods for recovering oil and gas from reservoirs.

Leon Robinson

Leon Robinson enjoyed a 39 year career at Exxon and made contributions in many technology areas such as: mud cleaners, explosive drilling, drilling data telemetry, subsurface rock mechanics, and drilling and hydraulic optimization techniques, tertiary oil recovery, on-site drilling workshops, world-wide drilling fluid seminars and rig site consultation.  He has received 34 US patents and 23 International patents pertaining to these areas.  Currently, he is a consultant, Chairman of the IADC Technical Publications Committee writing the encyclopedia of drilling, Chairman of an API task group involved with API RP 13C, member of API task groups addressing issues with drilling fluids and hydraulics, and on the AADE Conference planning committee.

Martin Chenevert

Internationally recognized for his work in the area of wellbore stability and drilling fluids, Dr. Chenevert has devoted his career to researching the petrophysical properties of shales, wellbore stability in shale formations, the dynamic filtration of drilling muds, and properties of synthetic muds. Chenevert has also developed software applications for use in petroleum engineering and holds nine US patents, including several for drilling with low water content in oil emulsion fluids; a method for determining clay reactivity; water-based well fluids for shale stability; and treating subsurface water-sensitive shale formations. In 2014, Dr. Chenevert retired as senior lecturer for UT’s petroleum engineering program and director of the drilling research program at the university’s Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department, and has taught at both the University of Houston and Oklahoma University. He was inducted into the Drilling Fluid Hall of Fame by the American Association of Drilling Engineers in 2006 and has received recognition for his work and teaching from API, SPE, and the University of Texas.

Ralph Veatch

Ralph W Veatch Jr. is president of Software Enterprises Inc., an engineering consulting firm.  Dr. Veatch worked in the Research Department of Amoco Production Company for twenty-three years.  Retiring in 1993 as supervisor of the Hydraulic Fracturing and Well Completions and Production Operations groups, he has authored or coauthored 25 technical papers and 12 books, and holds several patents. During his career he served on numerous advisory committees for the American Petroleum Institute, Completion Engineering Association, Gas Research Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Petroleum Council, and U.S. Department Of Energy.

Roland N Horne

Dr. Roland N. Horne is the Thomas Davies Barrow Professor of Earth Sciences in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University, and Director of the Stanford Geothermal Program. He was formerly the Chairman of the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Stanford from 1995 to 2006. He is best known for his work in well test interpretation, production optimization, and tracer analysis of fractured reservoirs. To date, he has supervised the graduate research of 37 PhDs, and 120 research MS students. He is the recipient of the Lester C. Uren Award from Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), as well as the John Franklin Carll Award. Horne was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2002, and in 2007 he was designated an Honorary Member of SPE. Horne is the 2010-2013 President of the International Geothermal Association, Technical Program Cochair of the World Geothermal Congresses 2005, 2010 and 2015, a Guest Professor of the China University of Petroleum, and has served as adviser to Texas A&M University, University of Auckland, and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Sam Gibbs

Recognizing the need for improvements in sucker rod pumping technology, Dr. Sam Gibbs developed a mathematical method for analyzing rod pumping operations using the wave equation. After forming Nabla Corporation with business partner Ken Nolan, Gibbs went on to develop the SAM Well Manager, which is reportedly the most popular pump off control (POC) in the world today. Gibbs and Nolen also developed the first on-site diagnostic computer to calculate real time parameters of and determine any problems with a pumping unit and its down-hole equipment. Gibbs has written more than 24 technical papers and an engineering textbook on sucker rod 2 pumping. In 2011, Dr. Gibbs was inducted into the Petroleum Hall of Fame for his contributions to technological innovation in the petroleum industry.

Stephen A. Holditch

Stephen Holditch, Professor Emeritus of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, held the Directorship of the Texas A&M Energy Institute, and was Head of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, where he supervised research in the areas of unconventional gas reservoirs, well completions, well logging and well stimulation, and hydraulic fracturing.  Dr. Holditch is a recognized expert in tight gas reservoirs, coalbed methane, shale gas reservoirs, and the design of hydraulic fracture treatments.  He has authored or co-authored three books and more than fifty technical papers.

Ted Frankiewicz

Ted Frankiewicz has more than 30 years' experience with Occidental Petroleum, Unocal Corp., Natco Group, and, currently, SPEC Services. He has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago, holds 15 patents, and has written more than 25 professional publications. At Unocal, he was responsible for developing the water treatment systems that were installed in the Gulf of Thailand to remove mercury and arsenic as well as residual oil from produced water. At Natco Group he developed an effective vertical column flotation vessel design and used CFD to diagnose problems with existing water treatment equipment, as well as designed new equipment. His combined expertise in oilfield chemistry, the design of process equipment, and the development of process systems has provided him with unique insights into the issues that challenge operators as their water production and water treatment costs escalate over time.

William C. Maurer

Dr. Maurer has spent his career spearheading changes for the petroleum industry, including his extensive research into novel drilling techniques, drilling mechanics, rock mechanics, drill bit design, downhole drilling motors, high-pressure jet drilling, horizontal drilling, and advanced drilling tools. He holds 38 patents on oilfield downhole drilling and completion tools. In the 1980s, Maurer organized an effort, known as the DEA 44, to develop tools that would drill horizontal wells. Maurer has authored more than 60 published works, including two books on drilling technology and was inducted into the US National Academy of Engineering in 1992.

James Brill

James Brill's work in mechanistic and unified modeling of multiphase flow led him to found the Tulsa University Fluid Flow Projects in 1973.  Additionally, he has served as a consultant to more than 35 international oil and gas companies in a variety of multiphase flow projects around the world and is the author of over 200 technical papers. 

Harry McLeod

Harry McLeod has devoted his career to evaluating well behavior and making continuous improvements to project technology. At Phillips, he implemented trials of new stimulation treatments; at Exxon, he made an impact focusing on artificial-lift and hydraulic-fracturing systems; and at Dowell, he developed a formation analysis technique for evaluating wells when using acid treatments. Later, at Conoco, with others, he designed a fracturing model used to eliminate screenouts by using control measures.

John Lee

Known throughout the world as a leader in petroleum reservoir engineering, W. John Lee headed Exxon Company's US Major Fields Study Group where he supervised integrated field studies of Exxon's largest domestic reservoirs.  Lee later went on to specialize in reservoir engineering for unconventional gas reservoirs as the executive vice president of S.A. Holditch & Associates. During 2007-2008, he served as an Academic Engineering Fellow with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, D.C. where he was the principal architect of the modernized SEC rules for reporting oil and gas reserves. 

Ken Arnold

Kenneth E. Arnold has over 40 years of industry experience in facilities design and management.  He has taught facilities engineering at the University of Houston, and has written two textbooks and over 50 technical articles on project managaement and facilities design.  He has received an American Petroleum Institute citation for his work in promoting offshore safety, and was recognized by the Offshore Energy Center for his pioneering work in helping to develop API RP 14C.   

Lyn Arscott

Lyn Arscott retired in 2001 as the Executive Director of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) which represents the upstream oil and gas industry before international regulatory agencies. Prior to that position, he was employed by the Chevron Corporation where assignments included Director and Corporate General Manager of Health, Environment and Safety and Senior Executive Consultant for Exploration and Production reporting to the Chairman of the Board. He was the 1988 President of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). He is a past Chairman of the American Petroleum Institute’s General Committee on Health and Environment and past Chairman of the Western States Petroleum Association committee on Environment, Health and Safety. During 2001/2002, he was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer on the subject of Sustainable Development in the Oil and Gas Industry.