October 2021
Features

Gulf retired Chairman and President Robert W. Scott passes away

Veteran oil and gas editor and publishing executive was a Houston industry icon.
Kurt Abraham / World Oil
Robert W. (Bob) Scott, Sr.
Robert W. (Bob) Scott, Sr.

It is with great sadness that we at Gulf Energy Information (Gulf) and its World Oil subsidiary report that our retired Chairman and President, Robert W. (Bob) Scott, Sr., passed away on the morning of Sept. 22, in Houston. He was 93. Bob had suffered a terminal injury on Sept. 16, which doctors were not able to improve.

Bob was a well-known figure and leader in the Houston oil and gas community, as well as nationally and internationally, through his long tenure as Editor of World Oil, as well as Editorial Director later on. That prominence continued when he became President and Chairman.

In the course of his work, Bob traveled to many oil provinces around the globe and met with dozens of Energy Ministers and other high-ranking officials in various countries. In the U.S., he met with many Senators, Congressmen, and Secretaries of Energy or the Interior, as well as state officials. He knew many executives at oil and gas companies and equipment/service firms throughout Texas and the U.S.

Bob also was a major figure within our company for 41 years, given his supervision or influence over so much of its operations.

EARLY YEARS

Fig. 1. During a mid-1970s field trip to Saudi Arabia, Bob Scott visited one of the Kingdom’s early Gas-Oil Separation Plants (GOSPs).
Fig. 1. During a mid-1970s field trip to Saudi Arabia, Bob Scott visited one of the Kingdom’s early Gas-Oil Separation Plants (GOSPs).

Bob was born in Houston, on Sept. 19, 1928. But he grew up in Edna, Texas, about 100 mi southwest of Houston and 25 mi northeast of Victoria, Texas. Bob graduated from Edna High School, and eventually got his first taste of oilfield work during a summer job with Magnolia Petroleum. Years later, he remarked that the first time that the name World Oil became predominate on the magazine’s cover (as opposed to its previous name, The Oil Weekly) was its 382-page issue of October 1947. Ironically, that year also saw his first exposure to both oilfield work and to the magazine.

Bob began his collegiate days in the fall of 1947 at Schreiner Institute, a two-year junior college in Kerrville, Texas, in the heart of the Hill Country. The school later became Schreiner College in 1973 and Schreiner University in 2001. For the fall of 1949, Bob transferred to the University of Texas (Austin) as a petroleum engineering major. It was during his collegiate period that Bob met his future wife, Rose. Indeed, he graduated from U.T. in 1951 with a BS degree in petroleum engineering, and Bob and Rose were then married in December 1951.

CAREER START-UP

Fig. 2. Also, in the mid-1970s, Bob conducted a one-on-one interview with Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Eng. Ahmed Ezz Eldin Helal.
Fig. 2. Also, in the mid-1970s, Bob conducted a one-on-one interview with Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Eng. Ahmed Ezz Eldin Helal.

Meanwhile, Bob entered the U.S. Army after graduation and served for two years, from 1951 to 1953, during the Korean Conflict era. In 1953, he was honorably discharged from the Army and went to work at Gulf Oil. However, he remained a member of the Army Reserves until 1959. During his time at Gulf Oil, Bob worked in onshore and inland bay operations along the Gulf Coast, much of it on assignments in Louisiana.

In 1958, he accepted an offer to join Gulf Publishing Company (the predecessor version of Gulf Energy Information) as Engineering Editor on the World Oil staff. After nine years of exemplary service as Engineering Editor, Bob was promoted to Editor of World Oil in 1967.

INDUSTRY FIGURE

Fig. 3. This is one of the drilling rigs that Bob saw operating in Sheng-li oil field during the first delegation to China in 1977.
Fig. 3. This is one of the drilling rigs that Bob saw operating in Sheng-li oil field during the first delegation to China in 1977.

During his career, particularly while Editor of World Oil for 17 years, Bob became well-respected as an expert on the international upstream industry, as well as domestic issues, and he was in demand as a speaker and commentator on various topics from technology advances to federal regulatory actions and politics. He also racked up an impressive amount of travel, going to and from industry conferences, meetings with government officials and field trips in disparate areas of the globe.

One of the places that Bob visited, more than once, was Saudi Arabia. His visits to the Kingdom were somewhat remarkable, given that they occurred in the aftermath of the Arab Oil Embargo, and tensions were still somewhat high. Nevertheless, Bob’s Saudi hosts could not have been more hospitable, and those visits resulted in detailed articles in World Oil about technology and operations in the Kingdom’s fields. One of the field sites he visited was an early Gas-Oil Separation Plant (GOSP), Fig. 1.

Also, during one of his trips to Saudi Arabia, Bob was able to visit Abqaiq oil field, about 37 mi southwest of the Dhahran-Damman-Khobar metropolitan area. There, he had the good fortune to meet Abqaiq’s manager, none other than Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi. According to Bob, Mr. Naimi was extremely cordial and took him around the field, explaining various operations and technologies employed. For quite a few years afterward, the two men kept up regular communication/correspondence, which included Mr. Naimi’s tenure as President and CEO of Saudi Aramco from 1983 to August 1995, when he became Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources until May 2016.

Fig. 4. Exemplified by this June 1978 front cover, the ability to report exclusively on the first U.S. delegation trip to China was a significant advantage for <i>World Oil</i>.
Fig. 4. Exemplified by this June 1978 front cover, the ability to report exclusively on the first U.S. delegation trip to China was a significant advantage for World Oil.

Another one of Bob’s more notable country trips was to Egypt in the mid-1970s. There, he again had field visits to document the country’s operations and technology, which resulted in multiple articles in World Oil. The highlight of the trip was a one-on-one interview with then-Minister of Petroleum Eng. Ahmed Ezz Eldin Helal, Fig. 2.

Head of four delegations to China. Based on trips like these and Bob’s thorough knowledge of global upstream activity, he was asked to lead the first U.S upstream oil and gas delegation to China in November-December 1977. That first trip included a visit to Sheng-li oil field (Fig. 3), which was then China’s second-largest producing area, allowing Bob the opportunity to report exclusively on the country’s drilling and production capabilities, Fig. 4.

Bob led a second industry delegation to China in September 1978, and this included a visit to the country’s largest oil field, Daqing, Fig. 5. Again, he was able to provide an exclusive report in the pages of World Oil on China’s upstream operations, including modernization and reform initiatives undertaken by the government, plus early efforts offshore.

A third delegation to China, led by Bob, occurred in July 1979. In contrast to the previous two trips, this one featured a visit to Weiyuan field, then the largest natural gas field in the Sichuan basin, Fig. 6. The fourth and last delegation headed by Bob occurred in 1982, and it resulted in additional updates in World Oil on topics introduced from the first three trips.

Association participation. Bob also participated heavily in industry associations, including more than 50 years of membership in the Society of Petroleum Engineers and service as Secretary of the National Ocean Industries Association. He also was President of Houston-based National Oil-equipment Manufacturers and Delegates Society (NOMADS) in 1984 and a member of that group for several decades. At the time of his retirement, Bob still held Registered Professional Engineer credentials in Texas and Louisiana.

Fig. 5. During the second delegation trip to China in September 1978, Bob (right) visited with Wang Shi-hu (left), Chief Mechanical Engineer at Daqing field.
Fig. 5. During the second delegation trip to China in September 1978, Bob (right) visited with Wang Shi-hu (left), Chief Mechanical Engineer at Daqing field.

LATER CAREER/ RETIREMENT

After serving 17 years as Editor of World Oil (the second-longest tenure of all editors), Bob was promoted during the fall of 1984 to Editorial Director of World Oil and additional titles at Gulf. He fulfilled that role until 1994, when he was elevated to President of the company and later assumed the title of Chairman. In the latter part of 1996, he relinquished the position of President but remained as Chairman until retiring in early 1999.

Retirement years. In retirement, Bob remained busy in the industry, serving as a senior advisor to the then-Offshore Energy Center (now Oilfield Energy Center, or OEC) and participating in committees for OEC’s Hall of Fame. Indeed, it was this editor’s pleasure to serve with Bob on the various OEC/HOC committees during the latter years of his participation. He also served for a number of years as emcee for the OEC Hall of Fame’s annual Induction Ceremony. Indeed, Bob, himself, was inducted as an “Industry Pioneer” in the Hall of Fame during 2016 for his long, illustrious service to the industry.

Supervisor, mentor and friend. A number of people have asked me recently what it was like to work with Bob. My short answer is that what you saw was what you got. Bob was a straight-shooter, and he was always true to his word. He had strong opinions, most of which were geared to what was best for the oil and gas industry, but you always knew where you stood. Bob cared a great deal about the company’s employees, particularly the editors, and was dismayed when Gulf imposed a very modest layoff, its first in 70 years, necessitated by the oil industry crash of the mid-1980s.

Fig. 6. The third U.S. industry delegation in July 1979 visited the gas-producing Sichuan basin. Bob is in the bottom row, fourth from the right.
Fig. 6. The third U.S. industry delegation in July 1979 visited the gas-producing Sichuan basin. Bob is in the bottom row, fourth from the right.

Bob was a planner and had the rare ability to have both a large vision for the company and also attention to detail. Back when Gulf still hosted hunting trips to West Texas, Bob’s planning and execution of those hunts often had the precision of a military operation. It would bother him when an editor made a significant error in editing or writing, but he always tried to turn the miscue into a coaching moment: “did you learn something from this?” he would often ask the employee in question. “Well, you’ll know what to do from now on.”

In his later years, Bob would stay in touch with many of his former staff and colleagues, checking periodically to see if we were all faring well. And remarkably, well into his early 90s, Bob remained sharp and informed on industry issues, offering advice and opinions. Along with his family, all of us, his former staff and colleagues, will miss him greatly.

About the Authors
Kurt Abraham
World Oil
Kurt Abraham kurt.abraham@worldoil.com
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