Bob Esser, a longtime AAPG Foundation Trustee Associate who for nearly 25 years has kept the group informed and often entertained regarding the current state of the petroleum industry, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Trustee Associates Service Award.
Esser, who had a long career in the industry – first as a geologist with Mobil Oil and then, starting in 1989, with then- Cambridge Energy Research Associates (now IHS CERA) – has been an AAPG Member since 1961 and a Trustee Associate since 1992, when he joined at the invitation of Paul Dudley and William Ammentorp.
One year later he was asked to give an “energy forecast” at the Trustee Associates annual meeting in Point Clear, Ala., and the experience was the start of what became an annual highlight for the event. Since 1993 he has given his presentation 23 times, missing only one meeting (in 2010) when he was unable to attend.
He retired in 2009 as an IHS CERA senior consultant and director, but has remained current in his discipline of long-range global oil and gas capacity forecasts.
His knowledge and insights into long-term oil forecasts have gone far beyond the world of AAPG – once, famously, when he was cited by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin in a Washington Post article titled “It’s Not the End Of the Oil Age.”
Yergin wrote of the then-fear of an imminent fuel shortage as he quoted Esser:
“Yet this fear is not borne out by the fundamentals of supply. Our new, field-by-field analysis of production capacity, led by my colleagues Peter Jackson and Robert Esser, is quite at odds with the current view and leads to a strikingly different conclusion: There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day – from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day – a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.”
In announcing the honor, Trustee Associates chair David Worthington commented that Esser’s background gives him the firsthand knowledge required for forecasting, and that his “enthusiasm and passion for forecasting are evident in his presentation.”
Rarely is it an easy task; Esser begins tracking data months before each of his presentations, knowing that huge changes are always near. On some occasions the data changed so drastically that he had to recast his presentation right before the meeting.
A graduate of both Yale and Stanford universities, Esser was previously honored for his promotion and service to the AAPG Foundation with the group’s prestigious Chairman’s Award.
Esser and his wife Gail have been active participants at Trustee Associates meetings, supporting and promoting the activities of the AAPG Foundation.