Petroleum Engineering Alumnus of the Month - January 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reidar B. Bratvold, Ph.D.

Reidar BratvoldReidar B. Bratvold is a Professor of Petroleum Investment and Decision Analysis at the University of Stavanger, Norway. Before joining the University of Stavanger, Reidar was professor and discipline head of petroleum engineering & management at the University of Adelaide, Australia, where he still retains a position as adjunct professor. As a Vice President of Landmark Graphics Corporation he was responsible for all of Landmark’s solutions in reservoir management, production and drilling. Prior to joining Landmark, Reidar was General Manager of Smedvig Technologies Software Solutions (now Roxar). He was the Founder-General Manager of ODIN Reservoir Software & Services where he initiated and oversaw the development of software and consulting solutions for stochastic reservoir modelling (STORM) and other reservoir management applications. He was also Senior Scientist for five years with IBM, working on high-performance reservoir simulation and spent several years as a reservoir engineer with Statoil. Reidar spent his early working years as a roughneck in the North Sea.

Twice invited to serve as SPE Distinguished Lecturer, in 1998/99 on the topic Uncertainty Assessment and Risk Management in Exploration & Production and in 2003/04 with the topic Would You Know a Good Decision if You Saw One?, he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events. He has published numerous papers on topics such as investment modeling, decision-making, stochastic reservoir modelling, fuzzy logic and reservoir management. Reidar is a co-author of the book: Making Good Decisions, which will be published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers in early 2010.

Reidar holds a PhD degree in petroleum engineering and an MSc degree in mathematics both from Stanford University, an MSc degree in petroleum engineering from The University of Tulsa, a BSc degree from University of Stavanger, Norway. He also has extensive executive education from INSEAD (International Executive Program), Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford’s department of Management Sciences and Engineering, and the MIT Sloan School of Management. Reidar has been honoured with a membership in the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences for his work in petroleum investment and decision analysis.

Reidar in his own words...

Why did you choose TU?

I have always enjoyed mathematics and for me the obvious focus in my petroleum engineering education was well test analysis and reservoir simulation. As I finished my BSc degree in Stavanger in 1982, two of the world’s leading educators and researchers in these areas, Al Reynolds and Raj Raghavan, were professors at TU. This made TU the natural choice and it was the only university I applied to.

Did you receive an education beneficial to your career?

TU was a great place to be a PE student at back then. Not only was the PE faculty very good but the overall caliber of the students with whom I interacted was way beyond my expectations. My two years at TU were extremely fulfilling and although I worked harder on my studies than I ever had before, I look back at those years with a lot of fondness.

Any fond memories you would like to share?

At the time it happened, the experience was really more of a nightmare than a “fond memory.” At TU all MSc students had to present and “defend” their theses. When I lined up to do so in the Spring of 1984, there was probably about a dozen or so faculty and students in the lecture room. Only a couple of minutes into my presentation I managed to convince myself that my thesis work was absolutely worthless. I told myself that my results were useless and I had done nothing to contribute to the research in this area and that everybody in the room knew a lot more about my thesis topic than I did. About 10 minutes or so into my presentation, these incredibly negative thoughts completely overwhelmed me and before I knew it I fainted, fell over the overhead projector and hit the floor. As I woke up, Professor Reynolds who was my thesis advisor, was dousing me with a wet cloth trying to wake me up. Eventually I got going again and finished the presentation without any more “disasters.” I don’t really remember much of the rest of it except that the questions at the end were a lot mellower and less aggressive than I had experienced listening to other MSc students presenting their research. I guess fainting at a critical moment does have some benefits and in hindsight this episode has become a fond memory which I often tell my kids and my students.  

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