In Memoriam: Valery I. Graifer

Valery I. Graifer, SPE Honorary Member and a founding father of the Russian oil industry, died 24 April. He was 90. Graifer was the chairman of the board of directors of Lukoil.

He was conferred with SPE Honorary Membership in 2010 for his achievements and stewardship of the Russian oil industry, and his uniquely influential role in the growth of SPE in the region. Honorary Membership is the highest honor that SPE presents to an individual and is limited to 0.1% of the SPE total membership.

Graifer was the chairman of the board of Lukoil since 2000. Before that, he was chairman of Russian Innovative Fuel and Energy Company (Ritek), of which he was also a founder. He was a research and development and environment executive at Lukoil earlier. Up until the last months of his life, Graifer carried out the strategic leadership as chairman of the Lukoil board, and held his position as one of the leading experts in the Russian oil and gas industry. His unique experience assisted the company in executing successful projects in the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea, Republic of Komi, and other regions.

"For our generation, for those people who worked under Valery Grayfer's [sic] leadership, he had always been an embodiment of optimism, of hope for the best, and of the highest professional and personal qualities. In the 1990s, when no one even mentioned innovations, Valery Grayfer [sic] thought decades ahead and founded Ritek. … We have always listened to his opinion as chairman of the Lukoil board of directors. It is an irreparable loss for our company and the entire industry," said Lukoil President and CEO Vagit Alekperov.

A pioneer of the Siberian oil frontiers of Tatarstan, Graifer became chief engineer and head of oil and gas production and processing at Tatneft when he was 34. From 1985 to 1990, he served as Russia’s Deputy Minister of Oil as the head of the Main Tyumen Production Office. Graifer's achievements over a 57-year career have been recognized in Russia at the highest level. He was the recipient of  numerous former Soviet Union and Russian state awards. A laureate of the Lenin Prize and the Russian Federation Government Award, Graifer was decorated with seven orders and four medals. He was a professor at Gubkin State Oil & Gas University and a founder of its board of trustees.

Graifer with SPE CEO Mark Rubin.


Graifer played a significant role in the growth of SPE in the Russian region. He was chairman of the executive committee of SPE Russian Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition in 2006, 2008, and 2010. His leadership facilitated the engagement of other industry leaders and established the conference as a symbol of SPE's growing stature in the Russia and Caspian region.

“It is very important to integrate the technological advances of the E&P industry all over the world with the unique resources of Russia to secure the energy future of our planet under the conditions of growing hydrocarbon costs,” said Graifer in an interview in JPT as the chairperson of the first conference’s executive committee.

The conference continues its reputation as one of the most respectable technical events in the oil and gas industry and a platform in Russia for companies to share their best practices and case studies.

To mark his valuable contribution to the development of the Russian oil industry, in 2019, Lukoil named the oil and gas condensate field formerly known as Rakushechnoye, located within the Severnyi area in the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea, after Graifer by order of the Russian Federal Agency on Subsoil Use.

Graifer graduated from the Moscow Oil Institute, later Gubkin University, in technical sciences.