Robert Greaves

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Robert Greaves
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Robert Greaves and Terry Fulp are receiving the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for their pioneering work in 4D or time-lapse seismic to monitor the fluid movement within a producing hydrocarbon reservoir. Their efforts, done while working at ARCO in 1982-83, were the first successfully repeated 3D (actually three 3Ds over a one-year period) that not only monitored the fluid movement in the reservoir, but also tied the seismic changes to the rock and fluid properties. In fact, it was in the latter part of the decade that 4D really began to attract the attention of the industry. Greaves and Fulp presented their work at the SEG Annual Meeting in 1983 and published their results in 1987 (for which they received a Best Paper in GEOPHYSICS Award). Even though Bob and Terry left the industry to pursue other earth science careers, they were recommended for this award because 4D has now become mainstream commercial technology. One 4D expert recently said, “The work done by Greaves and Fulp was way ahead of its time.”

Biography Citation for the SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal Award

Contributed by Arthur B. Weglein

It is a distinct and special pleasure to write this citation for Robert J. Greaves. This award recognizes both his leadership of a visionary 4D project and the first, and pioneering, conceptual development and practical contribution to the field of 4D seismology.

Bob Greaves received a bachelor’s degree with distinction in physics, magna cum laude, from Boston University, and went on to earn a master’s in exploration geophysics from Stanford University and then a PhD from MIT/WHOI in marine geology and geophysics, under the mentorship of Ralph A. Stephen at WHOI and M. Nafi Toksoz at MIT.

His career in exploration geophysics began with Gulf Oil in 1977, and he moved to ARCO in 1980. At ARCO Bob was promoted from research scientist to senior research scientist and then technical coordinator/senior research scientist. Bob led the historic seismic time-lapse experiment in the Holt Sand In-Situ Combustion reservoir engineering project. The purpose was to determine the efficiency of oxygen-fed in-situ combustion as a thermal tertiary EOR process. The 3D seismic surveys, repeated three times between 1982 and 1983, determined preburn, midburn and postburn reservoir conditions; it was the first ever such 4D field test, and it was onshore. That first 4D experiment was a success, demonstrating the usefulness of time-lapse for monitoring changes to a reservoir caused by production operations.

That forefront research effort was way out ahead of industry practice at the time. The subsequent history of 4D speaks volumes to the early vision and contribution of Greaves and Fulp. That 4D effort at ARCO depended on a supportive management and technical infrastructure that made such advanced research possible. Among those deserving recognition are Eddie Neitzel, Jim Gant and Jamie Robertson, who provided both technical review and enthusiastic management support throughout the life of the project.

As with many petroleum companies, ARCO went through phases of great and less-than-great support for fundamental high-impact research. On its best days ARCO was able to rise to great heights and scale great technical challenges, well before the rest of the industry, and was visionary and peerless in areas where it decided to excel and lead. The “roll your own” ARCO ambience prevented a dominant and sometimes stifling technical corporate culture and inertia and, hence, could allow an inventive spirit to flourish. The 4D fundamental research effort of Robert J. Greaves, and his colleagues, represented one of the high-water marks of that ARCO golden era. In a broader sense it is representative of the best thinking, sharpest and most effective management and scientific and technical impulses and instincts that reside within our industry.

I have known Bob Greaves since we worked together at ARCO some 20 years ago. Bob has an amazing sense of data, and an almost instinctual, intuitive grasp and understanding of what data communicates that represents a unique talent and gift. He has a beguiling, low-key and unassuming understated manner, and a dry sense of humor that, in fact, covers an amazing breadth and depth of understanding of seismic acquisition, seismic processing theory and practice, and data interpretation. Bob Greaves is an absolutely first-class, high-impact, leading-edge geoscientist; he is direct, plain spoken, clear, impeccably honest, and a model and lodestone of professional and personal integrity. Bob Greaves produces world class quality contributions in every endeavor he pursues—and he has produced several including contributions in wave-field modeling of seafloor scattering, cross-well seismic imaging, and ground-penetrating radar.

While we recognize and celebrate the accomplishments leading to this award, we fully anticipate and look forward to further visionary breakthroughs and contributions from Bob Greaves.