Michael Forrest

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Michael Forrest
Mike Forrest headshot.png
Membership Life Membership


Mike Forrest has a lifelong and extraordinary record of service to the Society particularly on the Foundation and its Trustee Associates. Mike joined the SEG Foundation Board in 2008 and his subsequent contributions have been and are enormous:

• Mike was one of the top five volunteers in the $17 million fundraising campaign (2005-08). He is a key member of the Development Committee and has been instrumental in developing relationships between corporations and the Foundation.

• Mike made it his mission to increase membership in the Trustee Associates. Through his singlehanded efforts in the past three years, membership has grown to over 200. Mike has been tireless in giving short “pitches” at Section meetings on behalf of financially supporting SEG.

• Mike has hosted an annual summer reception at his home on Galveston Island to promote Trustee Associate camaraderie and attract new members. He has also cohosted an annual winter reception for the same purpose at Lakeside Country Club in Houston.

Even after a professional career of over 55 years, Mike continues to selflessly promote SEG and exploration of geophysics. He is still making a difference. Mike is a well regarded and visionary geophysicist, well known within Shell Oil for his early recognition and adoption of bright spots as an oil and gas indicator. The roots of bright spot technology originated in the 1970s. Mike has always been an oil finder. He is widely recognized for his near photographic memory of seismic sections, well data, stratigraphy and basin processes. He continues to be one of the driving forces in the DHI Consortium of Rose & Associates.

SEG Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution 2023

Michael C. Forrest is recognized for his significant contribution to the SEG Foundation’s mission to advance geophysics today and inspire geoscientists tomorrow. This is particularly applicable because of the contributions that he has generated and the funds that have been raised in his name for Geoscientists without Borders. Forrest also has a passion for working with students from around the world through SEG’s EVOLVE program and has been a crucial contributor to its continuing development. As one nominator wrote, “He is always supportive of personal and professional social contribution programs and is a shining example of the kind of geophysicists that SEG hopes to inspire in the future.”

Biography Citation for the Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution

by Craig J. Beasley

Despite the eponymous nature of this award, I do not name or vote for the awardees, nor have I ever written a citation. However, in this case, I agreed to write one. Michael C. Forrest’s contributions to our industry, SEG, and humanity are so significant and numerous, I could not turn down the request.

When I think of the word energy as it relates to Mike and his career, I am not thinking of his long tenure and accomplishments in the energy business and its technology, although they are many and significant. Having been awarded with honors by SEG and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, employed for 37 years with Shell and Pecten, recognized as an organizer of many industry collaborations, and more show that he is the real thing. I instead think of his pursuit of goals and long-standing service to the SEG Foundation and its many programs.

I believe that Mike was the first Foundation Board member to recognize the potential of the Foundation in making a difference by supporting Geoscientists without Borders (GWB). Mike has always been interested in helping the next generation of geoscientists to succeed. I believe he recognized that we could do it all at once by using our technology for humanitarian purposes. If GWB is a success, and I think it is, Mike deserves a lot of credit for supporting it and raising funds to continue its good work. Not only did he support GWB as a Board member, but he made many generous personal donations to the program. His largest contribution may have been his long career of good work and respect from the community that he has garnered.

One of the most successful fundraising campaigns for the Foundation was a challenge donation program, inspired and carried out by our good friend, colleague, and previous Shell scientist Cung Vu. Cung had the brilliant idea that, with Mike’s wide network and notoriety in Shell, his former colleagues would not resist contributing to the Foundation in his name, especially if the cause was GWB. He was absolutely right about this and was relentless in making sure it happened. So, in Mike’s name, with the hard work of Cung and the generosity of former Shell colleagues, more than US$500,000 was raised in his honor. Many have contributed to humanitarian causes, and to GWB in particular, and many have done wonderful projects. However, it would be hard to find a larger impact than Mike’s toward humanitarian geophysics. Lives have been changed around the world and a generation of students have benefited from the opportunity to perform these projects. Students often say that doing a project changed their lives.

More recently, Mike turned his attention to the SEG EVOLVE program, which is aimed at giving students the opportunity to learn the real world of geosciences by forming multidisciplinary teams and doing real projects. He has been, once again, tireless in keeping that program alive during a very difficult period for the energy industry and the world as it traversed the pandemic.

I am very pleased that Mike has been chosen to receive this award, honoring his many contributions to applying geophysics to humanitarian causes. As I said in the beginning, it is not within my purview to make such awards, but if I had to do it, I cannot think of a more deserving person. The best thing we can do to honor Mike and recognize his many contributions is to support him in his efforts. A good way to do this is to continue the tradition of donations to the Foundation in his name.

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership 2013

Contributed by Rocky Roden

It is an honor to briefly describe the accomplishments of Mike Forrest, a man who has had considerable influence on our geophysical community over the last 45 years. Mike began his career in 1955 when he went to work for Shell Oil, from which he retired in 1992. From 1967 to 1975, Mike was one of the key individuals at Shell who recognized the relationship between seismic amplitudes and the presence of hydrocarbons (direct hydrocarbon Indicators). It is because of this early work the he has affectionately been called the “Father of Bright Spots.” From 1984 to 1987, as Shell’s general manager of Gulf of Mexico Exploration, he helped influence Shell to acquire deep-water OCS blocks which began Shell’s early dominance of deep-water production and technology.

I first worked with Mike in 1992-1997 when he was my boss and COO and senior VP Business Development/ Technology for Maxus Energy (later Maxus/YPF). In working with Mike and traveling with him around the world, I realized his phenomenal grasp of geological/geophysical issues and how to relate this geoscience technology to the business side of our Industry. Whenever Mike visited offices, everyone knew that he loved to review seismic data and he was famous for the statement “show me the data.” During this time frame, Mike directed me (as chief geophysicist) to have Maxus join numerous academic and industry consortiums and encourage geoscientists to participate in local and international societies (especially SEG). Mike has always had the philosophy that we should continuously strive to improve our knowledge of geology and geophysics in the search to find oil and gas and to not be discouraged after setbacks but view them as good learning experiences.

In 2001, Mike asked me to work with him in the Rose & Associates DHI Consortium. Under Mike’s influence as chairman, this consortium has grown, over the last 12 years, to have both U.S. and European phases with over 40 oil companies participating. The results from this consortium have significantly advanced our understanding of DHI technology and its impact on risking and determining volumes for exploration prospects.

I have also taught numerous courses with Mike over that last few years and one of the most enjoyable and appreciated portions of the course are the exploration experiences Mike relates from around the world. Those who know Mike know he does not forget anything. Mike has been a SEG member for 60 years and over the last eight years Mike has increasingly been directly involved in SEG activities. In 2005-2007, Mike was a member of the SEG Foundation Fund Raising Cabinet. He is presently Chair of the Trustee Associates and member of the Development and Finance Committee. Mike has donated money and a significant amount of time to promote geophysics in our Industry through the SEG.

He is without question one of the most influential individuals of my career. What is extremely noteworthy is that the perception of Mike by dozens of other geophysicists, geologists, engineers, landmen, etc. who have also worked with him is very similar to mine. His accomplishments in our industry and SEG are impressive, but his honesty, integrity and drive to advance geophysics make him truly worthy of this award.