Dave L. Cantrell
B.A. 1979, M.S. 1982 Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Ph.D 2004 Geology, University of Manchester (UK)
Oil and Gas consultant, part-time instructor and researcher (Stanford University)
Although a native of central Tennessee, my path has taken me to many different parts of the world – first to Texas for 15 years, then to the Middle East for 20 years, and from there to many different destinations around the globe – and all in all, it’s been a great adventure.
My original ambition in life was to be Indiana Jones, and while I didn’t have all the adventures he did, I’ve been privileged to enjoy a career that’s been exceptionally rewarding – it not only allowed me to work in and travel to some really interesting and exotic locations, but has also allowed me to make some very real contributions to developing a better understanding of some of the most significant hydrocarbon accumulations in the world. These have primarily been large carbonate oil and gas fields around the world, but especially in Saudi Arabia.
I first discovered the “joy of carbonates” while doing an MS degree at UT under Ken Walker, and the pursuit of these most interesting of rocks and sediments has in many ways guided my steps and shaped my career for the next 35 years. I started my career as a research and production geologist at Exxon, where I conducted reservoir characterization and geological modeling studies on reservoirs in the Middle East; the Permian, Powder River, Williston, and Gulf of Mexico Basins of the USA; and the Maracaibo and Barinas Basins of Venezuela - among others.
After 15 years with Exxon, I accepted a position with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), and worked and lived in Saudi Arabia for the next 20 years. There, I conducted studies on several large carbonate fields (and I do mean large – one of these was Ghawar field, the largest oil field in the world), and led geologic R&D for Saudi Aramco for 8 years of my tenure there. During this time, I was also able to complete a PhD at the University of Manchester (UK), which I found to be a totally enjoyable experience. Toward the end of my time with Saudi Aramco, I took a detour into academia, and served as a professor and Associate Director for a new college that had been sponsored by Saudi Aramco, the College of Petroleum Engineering & Geosciences at King Fahd Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM). There, I found that I really enjoyed working with and mentoring young people in the art and science of geological reservoir characterization, modeling and prediction.
After officially retiring in mid-2017, I returned to the US and started a small consulting company, and have conducted training and mentoring sessions for industry professionals and for students at Stanford University. Even though I’ve retired, the “Indiana Cantrell” adventure continues!