Paul Cunningham

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Paul Cunningham
Paul S. Cunningham headshot.png
Membership Life Member


Paul S. Cunningham is being awarded Life Membership for his meritorious voluntary service to the Society. Paul has been an active member of the Global Affairs Committee for the past 10 years and has served as Latin America Regional coordinator for all of that time. He was the general co-chairman of the Rio’99 meeting and his fund raising made that event possible. He has served on the Executive Director Search Committee and on the Sponsorship Committee for SEG’s 2003 Annual Meeting. He has assisted in sponsorship coordination for several annual meetings and is a member of the International Meetings Committee. Paul has actively recruited speakers for many years for the luncheons of the Union of Latin American Geophysicists. In addition, Paul has found time to promote cooperation between SEG, ULG, and SBGf. Paul exemplifies the meaning of the term “global geophysics.”

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership

Contributed by David Behrman

SEG is increasingly becoming a global organization and, consequently, I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Paul Cunningham, who has supported the global geoscience community in his long successful career. He learned early on the importance, both professionally and personally, of SEG and its global reach. As an active member of the Global Affairs Committee, he helped lobby for a lowcost Global membership to include members from developing countries with very limited funds. SEG is sustained not only by corporate support and sponsorship, but by those members like Paul who volunteer their time through the good graces of their employers or on an individual basis. For the International Showcase at the 2003 Annual Meeting, Paul spent hours getting corporate sponsors and he has also supported the Showcase in other years. He was Latin American Regional Coordinator for the GAC from 1995-2001, general co-chairman for the successful Rio ’99 conference, and has served on several ad-hoc committees.

Paul has outstanding technical and managerial skills and makes a point to recognize others’ achievements and contributions to the job at hand. He started his career in 1984 at Sohio’s Dallas Geoscience Center on Cray implementation of processing routines and field seismic data analysis. Paul joined Mobil E&P Services in 1987 and held a number of assignments, including implementation of crosswell seismic tomography technology in several of Mobil’s domestic producing fields, and earned tenure in the Seismic Acquisition group by helping develop practical solutions to seismic acquisition and imaging problems. That is where I first worked with Paul and we have been great friends ever since.

He worked on several projects including HFVS, economics of 3D seismic and WARRP (developed by GeoPro GmbH) before, in 1995, becoming an embedded seismic acquisition expert in Mobil’s New Exploration Ventures Group where he implemented the first 3D WARRP project in Peru. This afforded him the opportunity to join the Peru Team, manage seismic acquisition projects in Southern Peru, and subsequently start generating prospects. He introduced the low-fold 3D technique there (championed by K. Paul Allen of Mobil) to help reduce drilling risks, impact, and costs in an environmentally sensitive area of southern Peru.

In the late 1990s, Paul joined Mobil’s Brazil exploration team where he remained until the ExxonMobil merger in early 2000 when he chose to pursue career options outside of large corporations. After a short time developing Latin American business opportunities in the wireless communications industry, Paul returned to his geoscience roots as a consultant. In 2001 he formed Amigos Energy Advisors, LLC, in business and growing now for three years. Paul attributes his success and career growth to having been surrounded by brilliant and highly respected people from whom he has learned a great deal. His success as a project manager is due in large part to having worked large complex projects, instilling in him the ability to handle technical, operational and human issues with a multitude of contractors, agencies, government ministries, and time tables. His sensitivity to local communities and strong conviction to minimizing impact on the environment and

maximizing safe operations is an example for all of us. Paul’s academic career, undergraduate and graduate, was spent at MIT’s Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Department. During his studies two things influenced his development and he speaks of them often: (1) earthquake seismology field study in the Andes of Southern Peru, a joint project of MIT, the University of Grenobile, and Peru Institute of Geophysics; and (2) a summer internship for Esso, Brazil, where he worked with Ed Denman, one of the many great mentors Paul has had throughout his career.

Paul is devoted to his wife, the gracious and lovely Beatriz; his parents, his brother and his niece and nephew. In part due to his upbringing in Brazil and love of its culture, Paul has a passion, both as fan and player, for soccer (“the real football” game). He enjoys sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving and traveling. He has many friends across company, cultural and country lines, who, I am sure, would agree he has earned Life Membership.