In Memoriam: Lawrence Buck Curtis

Lawrence Buck Curtis, SPE, died 25 January. He was the SPE president in 1971 and a trustee of the SPE Foundation. Curtis joined Conoco in 1949 and spent his career of more than 40 years with the company. He held several management positions there, including chief engineer and manager of international operations and general manager for production engineering services, and retired as vice president production engineering services. He worked on several international assignments such as the Dubai Khazzan submersible storage tank and the Hutton deepwater tension-leg platform. As SPE president, he was among those who led the initial efforts toward SPE becoming an international organization. In the SPE 50th Anniversary issue of JPT in 2007, Curtis reminisced how in the 1970s, with demand for petroleum increasing by 10% per year and the US becoming a mature oil province, several American companies were moving into the international upstream arena and SPE members were already engaged in international operations and were stationed overseas. “In this industry environment, we knew we had to do something to maintain and grow a strong SPE that could help solve world energy problems,” he said. His efforts to expand SPE internationally included attending the World Petroleum Congress in Moscow in 1971 and visiting the director of l’Institut Français du Pétrole and discussing forming a local section in Paris. Following additional efforts in the following years, SPE became an independently incorporated entity in 1985 and currently has 207 sections in 144 countries.

Curtis was an Honorary Member of SPE and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. He received the SPE Distinguished Service Award in 1976, the SPE De Golyer Distinguished Service Medal in 1985, and was an SPE Distinguished Member. During his career, Curtis was deeply involved in the technical leadership and motivation of the early development and application of digital computers in monitoring and controlling production functions in oilfield automation systems. For his exceptional and innovative foresight in the concepts for and design of offshore structures, his professional commitment to open exchange of technical information on global oil and gas operations, and for significant influence in the evolution of the worldwide SPE, he was awarded the Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal in 1994. Curtis authored several articles and papers in JPT and other industry publications. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Curtis held a petroleum engineer degree from the Colorado School of Mines.


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