Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership
Contributed by Benjamin F. Rummerfield
Very rarely does a person have the ability, interest, and opportunity to provide his country, profession, and family with truly outstanding accomplishments and advantageous combinations of circumstances. Mexico, at present, ranks fifth in the world's production of petroleum. A great deal of this has been accomplished in the past several decades. One of the main contributors to this achievement has been, and is, Ing. Santos Figueroa.
Santos was born in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico and later graduated from Mexico City's National Polytechnique Institute as a mechanical-electrical engineer in 1935. His first professional experience was obtained with General Electric Co. in Schenectady, New York. In 1936 he joined the Mexican petroleum company El Aguila, and went on to take post-graduate studies in geophysics at the Shell Oil Co. Laboratories in Houston.
Santos Figueroa returned to Mexico soon thereafter to join Petroleos Mexicanos as the first professional exploration specialist in the Mexican petroleum industry. He formed the first Pemex seismic crew by constructing the amplifiers and oscillograph camera, utilizing the limited resources of the time under trying circumstances.
In 1940 he was made party chief of a seismic crew operating near Tampico. In 1944 he was transferred to Tampico, Tamau, as geophysical supervisor of the Northern Zone. In addition to seismic crews, he supervised electrical resistivity crews, gravity crews, and other exploration programs. He then proposed and directed reinterpretation of seismic work which culminated in the discovery of the southeast extension of the atoll reef known worldwide as La Faja de Oro, or The Golden Lane. His accomplishments led to his promotion in 1950 to chief geophysicist of Pemex. In this capacity, he was directly responsible for operations and results obtained by approximately 20 seismic crews and 5 gravity crews working throughout Mexico. These programs and the competent interpretations resulted in the discovery of some of Mexico's major petroleum fields.
In 1959, as a mark of distinction, the Mexican government commissioned Ing. Figueroa to participate in a committee headed up by then general director of Petroleos Mexicanos, Don Antonio J. Bermudez, which toured petroleum countries of the Middle East for several months. He received several decorations during this trip in recognition of his accomplishments. Later he was Pemex's representative on similar visits to the United States, Japan. China and other countries throughout the world. The interchange of technical information and the friendships he established proved of great value to Pemex and to Mexico.
He became a member of SEG in 1956. In 1961 he was elected president of the Mexican Association of Exploration Geophysicists.
In 1965 he occupied the post of assistant manager of geophysics, and in 1966 was named exploration manager of Petroleos Mexicanos. His professional maturity and the experience, together with excellent judgment and an interest in human relations, allowed him to develop and organize many professional personnel and technical projects in the growing Mexican petroleum industry. This included the development of the exploration department of the Mexican Institute of Petroleum.
His activities as manager of exploration continued until 1971 when he retired. Since that time, he has remained very active in all phases of Mexico's petroleum exploration programs. This has included teaching at the University of Mexico. At present, Santos is directing an intensive study of both producing and non-producing areas in Mexico. These studies are coordinating geophysics, geology, petrophysics, and other related parameters to increase production in developed areas and to stimulate discoveries in non-producing areas. His careful planning and execution of Pemex's exploration activities in Mexico led to many of the spectacular achievements that have placed Petroleos Mexicanos among the world's top petroleum producers. It is indeed impressive to note how the efforts of one person, and his ability to organize efficient programs and working groups, have consolidated the petroleum exploration results of a company that has added so much to Mexico and her future.
His wife, Sarah, and their four children and families all share their great pride and love of Ing. Santos Figueroa, one of the world's outstanding gentlemen and petroleum explorationists.