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Robert S. Nail, 2008 Distinguished Service Award

nailThe recipient of the GCSSEPM Distinguished Service Award for 2008 is Dr. Robert S. Nail. Robert (never Bob) always considers the paleontologic and biostratigraphic aspects of his geological work so let’s say he’s a Holocene phenomenon, and made his first evolutionary appearance in Wichita Falls Texas in January, 1963. His early years were spent in Ft. Worth and Mineral Wells Texas, where he exhibited talents for math and football, a somewhat uncommon combination. Robert credits his grandfather Buford Nail with having a major influence on his formative years. Buford acquired a geological engineering degree from Oklahoma after serving in WWII and built his own oil company in western Kentucky. Robert spent many summers working with his grandfather staking locations, maintaining equipment, monitoring production and generally doing all the things necessary to run the operations of an independent oil company. Buford also shared with Robert many stories about the history of each discovery and field and the traditions behind the oil industry in Kentucky. It was at this time, in his teens, that Robert decided he wanted to be a part of the oil and gas industry and make some discoveries of his own. He just didn’t know the path he would take to accomplish this dream.

He began his advanced education in Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech but soon realized the error of his ways and moved to geology where he discovered the wonders and mysteries of paleontology, sedimentology, stratigraphy and their applications in the realm of petroleum. The second step that would lead him to the GCSSEPM had been taken. He received his B.S. in Geology from Texas Tech in 1986 and was ready to make his mark on the industry, but found that the industry was in a serious depression and wasn’t ready for him. Not one to be discouraged, Robert did what many geologists have done in similar circumstances; he continued his education and earned his M.S. in Geology through a study of fusulinid forams with Dr. Merlynd Nestell at the University of Texas at Arlington. Sadly, the oil business STILL wasn’t ready for Robert. Undaunted he returned to Texas Tech and began PhD research with Dr. James Barrick that integrated Pennsylvanian fusulinid and conodont biostratigraphy from the Paradox Basin across to the U.S. mid-continent region. During this time he began to learn how to apply his skills in the industry while spending two summers as an intern geologist with ARCO and Phillips in the Permian Basin. It was at this time, 1992, that he made the first connection that would lead him to the GCSSEPM. He was introduced to, and worked with, long-time GCSSEPM member, Tony D’Agostino.

Robert received his PhD from Texas Tech in 1996 but was becoming slightly discouraged about his prospects in the industry and was actually considering a major career change. Two weeks prior to entering law school he was invited to join Tony in his newly-formed consulting business, TD Geoscience, in Midland. Robert accepted the employment offer and his mom could be heard all the way from Mineral Wells to Midland shouting “Thank you Tony”. While consulting with TD Geoscience, Robert quickly realized how important the internet could be for their work, geoscientists, and the industry in general. Thus he began teaching himself how to program and publish web sites. The TD Geoscience web site was the first of its kind to advertise geological services in the Permian Basin.

And thus began his career in the industry he had so long wished for. He moved from consulting in Midland to employment with Z & S Consultants in Houston, specializing in imaging log interpretation and traditional well log analysis. In 1998 he joined PGS Reservoir Consultants where he spent the next five years learning how to integrate his geological skills with seismic interpretation. He was also responsible for the U.S. version of the PGS Reservoir Consultants web site, causing no small ripple in the IT pond of that Norwegian company. When PGS reorganized that small consulting group out of existence in 2003, Robert established Nail Geoscience to provide stratigraphic, petrophysical and web consulting to the industry. He was shrewdly recruited by Chevron in 2006, and continues to be a key member of their Permian Basin Asset Development Team in Midland.

In 2000 Robert was enticed to join GCSSEPM and was quickly recruited by then-president, the aforementioned Tony D’Agostino, to completely revise and update the section’s web site and web-based services. He has been the GCSSEPM web master ever since and is singularly responsible for the maintenance and expansion of the web site. He brought us “News You Can Use”, a new web page header logo, online membership and meeting registration, and all the other links, features, and services we can now easily enjoy through our web link to the world. For his support of the section, eight years and running, with no end in sight, Robert S. Nail is truly deserving of the 2008 Distinguished Service Award.

Tony D’Agostino