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In Memoriam: William (Ben) Cline

William Benjamin (Ben) Cline IV, SPE, died 19 April. He was 87. Cline is the cofounder of Gaffney, Cline & Associates, an international oil and gas consultancy. A longstanding SPE member, Cline was a petroleum engineer of many accomplishments, a consummate problem solver, and a mentor and friend to many in the international oil and gas community.

Cline graduated with a BSc in petroleum and natural gas engineering from Texas A&I University, later Texas A&M University-Kingsville, in 1958. His first job in the oil and gas industry was at Texaco in Liberty, Texas, in the east Texas oil fields. He then accepted an international posting for Texaco and moved to Roblecito, Venezuela, where Texaco and its partner Ultramar (a British oil company) were developing and managing the Las Mercedes oil field. Here he met Peter Gaffney, who later became SPE president in 1996, and they both founded Gaffney, Cline & Associates. The consultancy offered solutions that broke the then-traditional structure that separated the geoscience, engineering, and commercial functions within oil companies, and integrated those disciplines for better focus on the best solution for the issues in question. Originally named Technical Services in Caracas, Venezuela, the partners opened their first office in Fyzabad, Trinidad, and changed the name of the company to Gaffney, Cline & Associates when they discovered another company in Fyzabad named TSL.

In the coming years the company opened offices around the world to ensure a presence in the regions and basins that were growing and strategic for the industry—in UK in 1966; Singapore in 1969; Dallas in 1977, and later in Houston; Sydney in 1985; Buenos Aires in 1989 as YPF privatized and the industry opened; and Caracas in 1994 and Rio de Janeiro in 1998 as Venezuela and Brazil, respectively, opened to foreign investment. Offices were subsequently established in Moscow and the United Arab Emirates.

Cline retired following the acquisition of the company by Baker Hughes in 2009. The science and practice of petroleum engineering and the business of oil and gas remained his passions for his life.

Cline was a registered Professional Engineer with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, a Chartered Engineer in Great Britain, and a Fellow of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers.


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