Western Geophysical

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Western Geophysical
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Citation for SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 1998

Scientific excellence and an entrepreneurial spirit have helped Western Geophysical grow over the last 65 years from a three-man operation in Los Angeles to one of the world's leading geophysical contractors with nearly 7000 employees working in all areas of the world.

Western has developed many of the seismic data acquisition and processing theories that are the basis of exploration geophysics today.

Western's history is interlaced with the careers of some of the world's most significant contributors to the field of geoscience. Henry Salvatori, the founder of Western Geophysical, played a key role in some of the earliest radioactive and electrical exploration methods and was a pioneer in the development of the seismic reflection method-long the dominant method of geophysical exploration. When Salvatori set up shop in 1933, Western Geophysical was one of only a handful of seismic reflection companies in the world. He began the company with personal capital of $9000, two employees, and a recording truck home-built in six weeks.

Within a year, the group added nine more crews and expanded operations into the south and southwest. Marine operations commenced in 1937 with a crew along the bays of the Texas coast. Western went international in 1940 with a crew in Italy. By the mid-1950s, the company had a regular marine operation, and another legend began forming in Western's history- Booth B. Strange, a rare combination of a scientific mind and a strong business sense. Strange devised a unique and practical system for large-scale analog processing of seismic data. Using his system, Western could accurately process 24 seismic channels of analog-recorded data simultaneously at a time when the rest of the industry processed each channel individually. Booth Strange later became president of Western Geophysical, and in the interest of keeping all crews working continually, developed one of the mainstays in the seismic industry - the practice of shooting speculative surveys. Today, Western has the world's largest library of nonexclusive data.

Western also was home to one of the world's most renowned technical contributors to geophysics, vice president Carl H. Savit. He was the first to publish results about the application of the bright spot technique-the first geophysical method to directly indicate the presence of hydrocarbons. While digital recording did exist in its infancy in the mid-1960s, Savit helped Western become the first company in the world to offer binary-gain recording on a regular basis.

Along with many other Western scientists, Savit was involved in developing a host of key methodologies: the first buggy for carrying the vibroseis system, the first workable high-pressure air gun, and the KILOSEIS system, the industry's first digital streamer. Western continued to develop practical methods for 3-D data acquisition, processing and interactive interpretation during the 1980s when, led by Ken Lamer, research focused on wave-equation imaging and 3-D technologies.

When Western purchased Halliburton Geophysical Services (HGS), in 1994, the company not only added a highly regarded work-force, but also benefited from the contributions of the some of the world's most recognized experts in geophysics, several of whom had made their marks at several well-known companies such as Geophysical Services Incorporated and Petty-Ray Geophysical before they became a part of Halliburton. These included such luminaries of our industry as Clarence Karcher, Cecil Green, the Petty brothers, Robert Ray, [[Harry Mayne[[, Bill Schneider, three "fathers" of 3-D seismic (Bob Graebner, Shorty Trostle, and Milo Backus) and others too numerous to mention. Fred Barr, formerly with HGS and still with Western, is today one of the industry's foremost authorities on the application of dual-sensor technology.

Today, Western Geophysical continues to pioneer the development and application of seismic and engineering technologies, contributing to advances such as depth imaging ocean-bottom cable surveys, multicomponent acquisition and processing, 4-D surveys, and infield processing. The company is world renowned for its leadership in 3-D seismic, and remains committed to finding additional ways to increase the accuracy and efficiency of seismic exploration. By the end of 1999, Western will have 32 vessels in its fleet and the company recently deployed the world's first solid streamer for enhanced productivity and exceptional data quality. About 75% of its crews have infield processing capability. For its efforts, the company has been awarded numerous patents, more than 400 of which are currently in force.

Western Geophysical attributes its success to the diligence, dedication, and hard work of its personnel-people who are consistently committed to providing the best possible service. Management continuity is another factor in the company's impressive growth, and reflects the philosophy that the best people to lead the company are probably already somewhere within its ranks. People are the foundation of Western. Individually, they serve in all capacities of operations, processing, research, and support. Collectively, they are known as Western Geophysical. It is on behalf of our employees that we thank the SEG for this award, for they are the ones whose talents and commitment "substantially advance the science of exploration geophysics."