Rocco Detomo, Jr.
Rocco (Rocky) Detomo, Jr. received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in physics from the Ohio State University in 1973 and 1975, respectively. He served as an experimental research associate at the Ohio State University Van de Graaff Accelerator Laboratory where he received his Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics in 1981. Rocky then joined Shell Western E&P as a geophysicist where he supervised land acquisition and seismic processing teams and interpreted onshore seismic in the continental and western United States.
From 1991 until 2005, Rocky was in New Orleans managing and interpreting for Shell Offshore, Inc. and Shell International E&P in the Gulf of Mexico, focusing on subsalt and structurally complex and technically challenging areas. He was the lead geophysical interpreter for a number of Shell's subsalt developments until he returned to Houston to lead Global Deep Water Exploration Evaluation and Quantitative Integrated Evaluation Capability Deployment, and serve as Shell's Gulf of Mexico Exploration Seismic manager. In 2008, Rocky moved to Lagos, Nigeria to serve as head of Reservoir Geophysics/Quantitative Interpretation for Shell in subSahara Africa.
He is the recipient of the Houston Geological Society 1997 Best Paper of the Year, co-recipient of the 1997 A.I. Levorsen Award for GCAGS Best Paper, and Shell's 1991 President's Award. Rocky was president of the Southeastern Geophysical Society, the Technical Program Chairman for the 2006 SEG Annual Meeting, is Chairman of the SEG Travel Grants Committee, and serves as a Trustee Associate of the SEG Foundation. He is also a member of EAGE, APS, Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Who's Who in "Teaching in America."
SEG Life Membership Award 2023
Rocco Detomo Jr. has selflessly given his time and talents to SEG and ranks among the most consistent and generous of volunteers. He has served the Society as a member of the SEG Board of Directors from 2015 to 2018 and currently sits on the SEG Foundation Board. He has traveled and lectured extensively as an SEG Honorary Lecturer and ambassador. Committee service is not uncommon among SEG members. However, unwavering and active service on several committees year after year for decades is rare. It is a commitment that requires dedication and true focus on the greater good. Detomo’s service includes time on the Annual Meeting Steering Committee; Audit Committee; Development and Production Committee; Distinguished Lecture Committee; Meetings Review and Planning Committee; Membership Committee; Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee; and Offshore Technology Conference Program Committee. He has and is currently serving in several roles for SEG EVOLVE. Detomo has always been there to help support our profession, Society, science, and colleagues.
Biography Citation for the Life Membership Award
Rocco (Rocky) Detomo Jr. has given significant time and talent to SEG as a volunteer for many years, including participating and leading several important committees. He has traveled extensively as an SEG Honorary Lecturer and ambassador. He was a leader in developing the SEG EVOLVE Multidisciplinary Virtual Internship in 2015. He helped restructure the program in 2018 and continues to be an advisor and mentor. More than 400 EVOLVE Subsurface Characterization program students have learned basic geology, geophysics, and engineering technical integration, exploration workflows, and presentation skills over the past six years. During the past year, Rocky was an advisor and mentor with the new EVOLVE Carbon Solutions program, which had four teams from U.S. universities. The program will be expanded globally later this year.
Rocky has devoted time and effort to identify, collect, and archive open-source geophysical data sets for the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation. An important contribution in 2012 was serving as Middle East and Africa Honorary Lecturer. His presentation was on the topic of 4D time-lapse seismic reservoir monitoring. He made a special effort to travel and speak at remote and underserviced SEG locations in Central Africa as an ambassador of SEG.
Detomo’s outstanding service to SEG committees includes participation in the Annual Meeting Steering Committee; Audit Committee; Development and Production Committee; Distinguished Lecture Committee; Meetings Review and Planning Committee; Membership Committee; Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee; and Offshore Technology Conference Program Committee. He served on the SEG Board of Directors from 2015 to 2018 and is currently a member of the SEG Foundation Board, with the important role of development committee chair. He is a Trustee Associate, and his donations help the Foundation support SEG programs.
Rocky has a PhD in nuclear physics from Ohio State University. He joined Shell Oil Company in Houston in 1981 and joined SEG in 1984. After several years as lead for onshore U.S. seismic data acquisition/ processing/interpretation, he moved to Shell’s Gulf of Mexico division in New Orleans during the early 1990s to serve as exploration seismic manager and global advisor for technology development. From 2008 to 2012, Rocky was head of reservoir geophysics for Shell in Lagos, Nigeria. He was then head of reservoir monitoring research for Shell in Houston. He retired in 2014 and formed Omoted E&P Consulting.
Rocky’s technical achievements and common-sense approach to solving problems has had a significant positive impact on geophysics technology. His volunteer work with SEG is outstanding, and he is always available to help support our profession, science, and colleagues. Rocky definitely has all of the requirements for SEG Life Membership.
Thank you to Jim DiSiena and Bill Abriel for providing some information in this citation.
2012 SEG Honorary Lecturer, Middle East and Africa
4D time-lapse seismic reservoir monitoring of African reservoirs
The world's growing attention to our industry's prudent operations has given rise to an increased demand for assessing the applicability of reservoir monitoring. The technical and visual demonstration of what is happening in a reservoir deep in the Earth, especially away from the immediate well bore, is of key importance for ensuring that fluids are moving as we have modeled them, and that the integrity of the reservoir is being maintained. 4D time-lapse seismic monitoring offers an effective method for detailing laterally extensive areas to monitor changes in both the geomechanical and elastic properties of the Earth.
The key to the 4D method is to insure that the 4D signals are detectable and identifiable from the noise and from other repeatable signals for which we cannot explicitly account. A 4D signal's detectability is dependent on the magnitude of the change in rock and fluid properties associated with the reservoir's production and on the level of random seismic noise. The ability to identify and interpret this 4D signal depends strongly on the repeatability of the seismic surveys, and the complexity of any other changes in the Earth, such as in the overburden. The greatest value in 4D is attained by assuring that the seismic experiment is repeated accurately and that the only changes seen are attributable to changes in the reservoir. There have been numerous reported examples where 4D measurements would have added key information to a field's operation, and a surprising number of examples where the most significant value derived from a 4D measurement was in seeing what was previously unexpected. We often make strong assumptions about what we know about our reservoirs between our points of well control.
Dr. Detomo will discuss how to assess the applicability of this technique to different geologic situations, examine key features of seismic acquisition, repeatability and seismic data-processing methods, and discuss repeat-survey interpretation strategies. Different acquisition strategies and systems will be highlighted, including marine and onshore cases. Industry examples of 4D time-lapse survey data from the Middle East and Africa will be shown with areas of typical value and business impact discussed. Fortunately, there are many African reservoirs where 4D time-lapse methodologies can be applied. Hopefully, at the end of this lecture, you will find yourself asking, "If I can detect the 4D signal, why would I not monitor my reservoir?"
A recording of the lecture is available.
Slides of the lecture also are available. 
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. (e.g. your education and work experience, why you became a geophysicist, etc.) As a second-generation Italian-American, the values that my family brought from "The Old Country" included hard work, education, and taking advantage of the opportunities that America offered which they never had. I was born and raised in upstate New York until my family moved to Florida and my father took a job as an engineer for NASA at Cape Canaveral. From an early age, I was interested in science and math and had decided before the age of 13 that I wanted to be a physicist. After serving in the Air Force and receiving my PhD in Experimental Nuclear Physics, I decided to take my scientific interests into an industry where innovation came quickly and where science could make a visible impact on the people around me. And so I joined Shell Oil company as a geophysicist in 1981, and have been exploring my curiosity and applying the geosciences ever since.
Would you like to mention anything about your personal attributes that helped you achieve the professional status you enjoy today; was it self-belief, hard work, a mentor, or something else? All of these attributes contribute, but it was sitting at my father's side when he repaired plumbing, installed electrical or shingled roofs during his weekends that I truly learned the value of curiosity, problem-solving, perseverance and understanding the laws of physics that drive how the world works around you. It was natural that this grew into a physics degree. As a youngster, I was also a Boy Scout, and from them and my military service, the value of teamwork and the roles and responsibility of leadership were well ingrained. These attributes have successfully carried me throughout my career.
Why did you choose this lecture topic? Why is it important? The oil and gas industry has matured into a critical component of the social success of worldwide human progress, especially in Africa and the Middle East. However, with that success comes a growing responsibility to monitor our operations, improve our resource efficiency and reduce any adverse impact on our environment. 4D time lapse monitoring of our reservoirs helps to address each of these items.
Could you tell us in a few sentences what your course objectives are? For the novice, I hope to bring an awareness of the value of 4D reservoir monitoring, an understanding of the principles involved, and the confidence to ask critical questions about whether or not reservoir monitoring should be considered. For the experienced professional, I hope to highlight the critical success factors that one should weigh when considering 4D time lapse reservoir monitoring, and discuss examples of where it has been used and has been successful.
Are there any more specific areas that you want to emphasize? I would like everyone to consider some of our "difficult" issues, such as how to estimate the value of learning something that was unanticipated, unexpected or unknown? In the past, reservoir monitoring has had to be cost justified with value of information studies, when the most significant impact is often hidden in "not knowing what we don't know." I also hope to emphasize the rapid technical development in instrumentation and the explosion in data volumes that will need to be addressed by our industry's next generation.
What do you hope people will have learned after they attend your lecture? How is it different from other lectures? I hope to stimulate their curiosity so that they leave asking "What new opportunities exist to make the uncertain more constrained?" "How can reservoir monitoring help me to increase my reservoir recovery while improving the safety of our operations?"
You have quite a busy year ahead. Do you enjoy traveling? Will it be difficult to balance the tour with your work? Where science is predictable, people are always unique and interesting! Because of this, I greatly enjoy traveling to new places, meeting new people, and learning about the questions that drive their inquiry. It will be difficult managing the work while I am traveling, but Shell Oil Company has always been supportive of these type of contributions to our industry, and I am blessed to have qualified peers who will assist during my absences.
Would you share with us one or two of your most exciting successes? Working on integrated teams where (1) a successful lease sale bid wins a coveted Gulf of Mexico prospect, (2) a successful deep-water wildcat exploration well makes a giant field discovery, and (3) a 3 year project to construct, install and develop an offshore oil field is led to deliver on time, on budget, and without a single lost-time accident. I find taking on challenges, seeing what others have overlooked, and helping others to do the same, as exciting.
How about a couple of disappointments? The "downsides" of the above, including: (1) losing a key prospect in a Gulf of Mexico lease sale by a fraction of a percent, (2) being "fooled" by believing a diagenetic boundary was a fluid contact and drilling an expensive exploratory "dry hole", and (3) leading a technical team that delivered world-class results and recommendations only for them to be irrelevant due to a change in strategic direction. Disappointments are a part of our business, where risk and reward need to be kept in balance. The key to disappointments is to always derive learning and value from them.
What advice would you give to geophysics students and professionals just starting out in the industry? Don't be in a hurry – allow yourself time to become technically proficient! Use the early part of your career to develop industry experiences and technical expertise. Some of today's youngsters are in a hurry to lead teams, make decisions and get to senior leadership positions in our industry, but to do so successfully, they need to command the respect of the technical experts that will advise them in the future. Good leadership starts with earning the respect of those you lead, and demonstrating technical proficiency is a prerequisite for this. In addition, without a range of experiences, it will be difficult to assess the conflicting and uncertain data from which we must make our decisions. Good, moral, business decisions are what will keep our industry strong and earn the respect of our world's citizenry. The other thing I tell young professionals is that in our industry, good technical professional will always be in demand. Develop something that you are an expert at, and build on that expertise. Try to learn a little of everything, but be an expert in at least one thing!