Petroleum Hall of Fame announces its new inductees

Petroleum Hall of Fame announces its 2023 inductees

Just in time for the New Year, the Petroleum Hall of Fame has announced its 2023 inductees: F. Marie Hall; Kenneth B. Nolen; Edward E. Runyan; and Don L. Sparks.

During an Induction Ceremony and Dinner slated for Thursday, April 20, 2023 at the Bush Convention Center, the four inductees will be honored for having “the freedom to dare” and for their “work and service [that] helped build the Permian Basin,” according to the Petroleum Hall of Fame.

Here’s a little bit about the new Petroleum Hall of Fame inductees, courtesy of their Hall of Fame bios:

The late F. Marie Hall hailed from West Texas, graduating high school from The Hockaday School in Dallas and college from Southern Methodist University. She also attended Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School in New York City. While Hall was an accomplished businesswoman who worked in banking and law and eventually rose to director of the State National Bank of Big Spring, Texas, she was well remembered for her many philanthropic endeavors. Her volunteerism at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas is where she began her long life of service, and where she led educational seminars, started sponsorships and chaired the first Sealy Society weekend in 1995. Hall’s philanthropy touched on a variety of areas, including medicine, nursing, health sciences, rural health care, rehabilitation, fine arts, higher education, research, architecture, interior design, sports, law and urban forestry. She went on to establish the FMH Foundation, serving as president until her death in 2017.

Inductee Don L. Sparks, was born in Pampa, Texas, graduated from Amarillo High School in 1957 and attended the University of Texas, graduating with a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering in 1962. He started working at Shell Oil Company in Midland, but was called to serve in the U.S. Navy. After being honorably discharged in 1965, Sparks returned Shell as an exploitation engineer responsible for all drilling procedures and completion of development wells in West Texas. He then went on to Freeport Oil Company in Midland as a division engineer in charge of the drilling operations west of the Mississippi River, and then joined Baily, Sipes, Williamson and Runyan as a consulting engineer. He eventually started Discovery Operating, Inc. with Ernest Angelo, which has evolved into small family owned and operated independent oil and gas company. Discovery, which will celebrate 50 years in 2023, runs 420 wells within a 300-400 mile radius of Midland, producing about 10,700 barrels of crude oil and condensate and 13 million cubic feet of natural gas each day. Sparks worked with Halliburton in early 2000 in their development of logs for the Wolfcamp and Spraberry shales. This logging suite and analysis has laid the foundation for choosing the landing zones in the horizontal wells drilled today in the Midland Basin.

Inductee Kenneth B. Nolen grew up in Eagle Lake, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M College in 1957 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. After working at Shell Oil Company as a production engineer optimizing production from artificially lifted wells—and also serving a three-year stint as a weather officer for the U.S. Air Force—he formed the Nabla Corporation with Dr. Sam Gibbs as vice president. During its last 20 years, the company built digital dynamometers, pump-off controls and fluid level instruments and was acquired by Lufkin Automation in 1997. A career as technical coordinator for Lufkin followed, as did a brief retirement in 2002. Eventually, Nolen and Gibbs teamed up again in 2014 to form GreenShot LLC, which focused on automated oil well fluid level technology. In 2018, WellWorx Energy acquired GreenShot and Nolen stayed on as an R&D advisor. During his career, Nolen has contributed greatly to artificial lift and co-developed, with Dr. Gibbs, wellsite diagnostic methods including dynamometers, fluid level sounders and pump-off controllers for sucker rod pumping systems—still used within the industry. He holds eight patents, has written textbooks/technical papers on artificial lift and has taught at more than 200 schools on artificial lift worldwide.

Honoree Edward E. Runyan graduated from Salem Community High School in Illinois and the Petroleum Engineering School at the University of Tulsa—and was the 1955 Outstanding Petroleum Engineering graduate of his class. He went on to work at Sohio Petroleum Company as a reservoir engineer in Oklahoma City before enlisting in the U.S. Army’s scientific and engineering program, where he completed his Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering. He transferred to Midland, Texas as a district engineer working on Sohio’s largest project, the Spraberry Driver Unit waterflood—where, due to the project’s failure, he learned that it was a great teacher. From there, Runyan went to work for Permian Enterprises as VP of Operations and part owner. During his career there, he modernized the company, developed new products, obtained several patents and wrote technical papers on cement-lined products. His career also included working as the president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE); for Elcor as the president of the Agrichemical Division and Corporate VP of Marketing; Bailey, Sipes, Williamson and Runyan as a partner; and starting his own private company, Texon Oil Company. He eventually attained controlling interest in Mid-America Petroleum Company, took it private and changed its name to Seaboard. Seaboard and Texon discovered the R.A. Clearfork Field, the Weeks Field, the Horned Frog Field, the Double E Field and the Marilee Field.

For more info about the Petroleum Hall of Fame or these 2023 inductees, click here.