Schlumberger Fellows: Recognized Technical Leadership
Dr. Craig Beasley—Schlumberger Fellow and Chief Geophysicist, WesternGeco
As chief geophysicist and Schlumberger fellow at WesternGeco, I have a unique opportunity to do what I love—develop new technologies and then push them into commercial use —and do so in the world's most successful oilfield services company. This is an exciting time to be in this position because I believe we are on the cusp of a major transformation in the oil service industry with new data acquisition systems and methodologies that will have a dramatic impact on the way we use seismic. These Schlumberger systems and methodologies—IsoMetrix marine isometric seismic technology, UniQ integrated point-receiver land seismic system, SimSource simultaneous seismic source acquisition and processing technique, and full-azimuth data acquisition—offer new spatial sampling capabilities that are providing a new level of seismic subsurface information never seen before.
With the right information and people, I believe that anything is possible. Whether it is technology, competitor analysis, strategic planning, financial management, business processes, etc., clarity of information is necessary to make the right decisions and to identify the way forward. To carry out the mission by identifying, motivating, developing, and retaining the right people has been a continuing passion throughout my career.
The path to where I am now was not a straight one. After all, who would hire a PhD mathematician with no knowledge of geophysics to work as a geophysicist and scientist? Looking back, it’s kind of hard to believe that I was given the opportunity, but I believe that if you do what you love and persevere, you can achieve almost any goal.
During my career at WesternGeco and Schlumberger, I have held various positions in R&D and computer sciences, including vice president of R&D, vice president of data processing for the Western hemisphere, vice president of data processing worldwide, and my current position as chief geophysicist. But turning the clock back, I began my career more than 30 years ago in the computer sciences group as a scientific programmer, working mostly with imaging programs such as migration. This position enabled me to co-author the first commercial prestack imaging program—3D DMO. Later, while I managed a small group responsible for developing imaging technology, we developed a continuing set of improvements for 3D DMO, cascaded and residual migrations, and other applications. These applications became the workhorses for pre- and poststack steep-deep imaging for more than a decade until Kirchhoff migration became affordable in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Shortly after I joined WesternGeco, I was asked what I would like to do. Because my dissertation focused on numerical methods for nonlinear partial differential equations, I said that I hoped to help bring more accuracy and fidelity to migration. Even though we were band limited and also limited by acquisition deficiencies, I wasn’t deterred. After a couple of years of learning about geophysics and considering all the smart people who had worked on this technology and the things they had accomplished, I remember thinking that this is all great stuff and too bad that it has all been done. Nevertheless, I persevered and was able to achieve my original goal. Today, more than 3 decades after my observation that this was a mature technology, improving imaging technology remains one of the most active areas of geophysical research.
In 1998, I helped in pioneering marine simultaneous sources, which is now a commercial technique that is getting a lot of attention, particularly for OBC and OBN (ocean bottom) systems where costs are substantially reduced while quality is increased. Ten years later, as this disruptive technology finally gained acceptance, the original simultaneous source paper was published in The Leading Edge, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists’ (SEG) peer-reviewed publication. I have continued working on simultaneous sources throughout the years. It is very rewarding to be able to play a role in industry-changing technologies and processes.
I’m grateful that I’ve also had the opportunity to affect changes outside our direct industry realm. While serving as president of SEG from 2004 to 2005, I had an idea for a program and the opportunity to implement it. The idea came after the 2004 Asian tsunami that devastated so much of the region. I proposed the idea for the Geoscientists Without Borders (GWB) program to provide geophysical resources and expertise to communities in need. GWB was launched in 2008 with an original funding grant from Schlumberger.
Through GWB, the oil and gas industry has the opportunity to play a role in responding to global disasters. Since its founding, individuals and corporations around the world have contributed to continue the program’s growth. The program has successes that are now living up to our most hopeful vision when we began. In recognition of the achievements of GWB, World Oil honored the program with Best Outreach Program award this year. I am proud to work in a company whose vision and integrity allows funding for such a program.
Every day, I am still motivated to come to work and help with the next development, whether that be direct technical involvement or guiding those coming up through the company. My guiding principle has always been to do what is right—a philosophy that has served me well.
Dr. Beasley earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston, a master’s degree from Emory University in Georgia, and a PhD from the University of North Texas, all in mathematics. He holds 19 US patents and has presented papers and published widely on a variety of seismic topics, ranging from prestack imaging, migration, data acquisition, and the connections between acquisition, processing, and imaging. He pioneered simultaneous source technology and has recently worked in broadband seismic techniques.
Dr. Beasley has received technical and honorary awards from entities such as Litton Industries, Schlumberger, and the SEG, including the SEG Award for Best Presentation. He has twice received honorable mention for best paper in geophysics. He is an honorary member of SEG and the Geophysical Society of Houston and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. He served as the 2001–2002 SEG 1st vice president and as the 2004–2005 president of the SEG. He served as the fall 2009 SEG Distinguished Lecturer as well as the Esso Australia Distinguished Lecturer and now as 2014 EAGE Distinguished Lecturer. He was the founding chair of the SEG Foundation Committee for Geoscientists Without Borders.