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Austin petroleum geologist wins international award


Austin geologist Peter Rose said he was tired of drilling for oil and not finding it when he developed a statistical way to approach the problem. His solution has earned him one of the highest awards in the world for his field.

Rose, 78, will receive the Petroleum Group Medal from the Geological Society of London Thursday at the group’s annual dinner. He is the first American ever to receive the award, said Jonathan Craig, chairman of the society’s petroleum group.

“His process and methods for consistent estimation of risk in exploration have been adopted as ‘best practice’ by the majority of the world’s oil and gas companies and, as such, Peter has probably had a more profound influence on the E&P Business than any other individual in the last 30 years,” Craig said in a statement he made when he nominated Rose.

Last week, Rose told the American-Statesman that receiving the award was probably the most “affirming thing that’s happened in my life.”

Rose grew up in Austin and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from the University of Texas.

He was working as a geologist for an oil company when he realized in 1978 that half of the wells the company had drilled in two years turned out to be dry, he said.

“It was real underperformance,” Rose said. By 1990, he figured out a statistical method to estimate the costs of exploration by analyzing several factors, including the probability of finding oil, the cost of drilling a well and producing the oil.

Bill Fisher, a UT professor of geological sciences and longtime friend of Rose’s, told the American-Statesman that the method “had not been done before and certainly not with the rigors he put into it.”

Rose started teaching risk analysis to oil companies worldwide and, in 1998, founded his own consulting firm, from which he has since retired.

“Risk analysis does not find oil but it keeps you from drilling wells that shouldn’t be drilled,” he said.

Rose said his wide ranging interests helped him come up with his risk analysis.

“I never have accepted there were things I couldn’t pursue if I was interested in them,” he said. “I used to be a country guitar picker, and I just published a western last year.”


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