E. O. Nestvold
Biography Citation for an SEG Special Commendation
Contributed James D. Robertson
E. O. "Woody" Nestvold is receiving Special Commendation for his outstanding work in developing and publicizing the importance of 3-D seismology in petroleum exploration and production. The 3-D seismic method is the most important technical innovation of the last 25 years in exploration geophysics.
Woody has played a leading role in demonstrating the impact of 3-D seismology on improving reservoir characterization, lowering development costs, increasing the efficiency of the E&P process, and materially improving the reserve replacement, production growth and profitability of hydrocarbon companies. In particular, when he was the Royal Dutch/Shell Group's General Manager of Geophysics and Geodesy, Woody presented a very significant paper in 1991 called "3-D seismic: Is the promise fulfilled?" which was subsequently published in the June 1992 issue of The Leading Edge. This paper was an exceptionally effective communication of the benefits of 3-D seismology in exploration as well as development. The paper was widely heard and read by high-level managers in oil companies, petroleum service companies, and financial services firms, and was instrumental in highlighting that 3-D seismology is an integral component of a successful oil and gas program. Woody's impact extended to stock analysts following the petroleum business, and it is no exaggeration to say that Woody convinced Wall Street that 3-D seismology was an essential business tool and not simply an interesting technical enhancement.
Woody holds a B.A. degree in mathematics and chemistry from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of Minnesota. He joined Shell in 1962 and spent the early part of his career in various research and operations positions in Houston and Denver. In 1977, he was assigned to Woodside Petroleum in Perth, Australia as chief geophysicist. He moved to The Netherlands in 1979, initially as head of the exploration and production processing center at Shell's research laboratory in Rijswijk. In 1981, he joined Shell Internationale Petroleum as chief geophysicist, and then became general manager of geophysics and geodesy in 1986. Throughout his long and distinguished career with Shell, he was an advocate for technology. In the 1980s and early 1990s from his positions in The Netherlands, Woody was a driving force in the acceptance by Shell companies, their partners, and host governments of the strategic value of 3-D seismology in worldwide exploration and production. He developed guidelines for the use of 3-D that were widely accepted within Shell and by major service companies, and effectively infused 3-D seismology into Shell's activities prior to outlining the value of the technology to the general exploration community in his 1991 paper.
Since retiring from Shell, Woody has maintained an active role as an advocate for 3-D seismic technology. He was a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (1993-94) and for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (1994-95), and has been SEG's Technical Representative to the Offshore Technology Conference since 1996. In his OTC role, he has been instrumental in upgrading the quality and quantity of the geophysical papers at OTC, and the sessions organized by Woody are now an OTC highlight. Woody currently maintains his own consulting company based in Houston, and continues to be a leading advisor to the oil and gas industry on 3-D seismology.