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Deepwater Pioneer Receives OTC Heritage Award


Gordon Sterling   

COPRI Past-President Gordon Sterling was selected this month to receive a prestigious Offshore Technology Conference Heritage Award, which honors him for “championing Shell Oil Company’s deepwater ventures in the Gulf of Mexico” and for his leadership of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). The OTC Heritage Award was developed in 1997 by the OTC Board of Directors to recognize the contributions of those with longstanding service to the offshore industry. A decade ago, board members recognized that a number of individuals worthy of recognition went unnoticed because they didn’t fit the criteria to be a Distinguished Award recipient.

Heritage awards have been distributed at four of 11 OTC Conferences since 1997.  The number of recipients has varied from one to four for a total of nine awardees. Awards are only presented during years in which the OTC Committee believes an activity, event or contribution merits recognition. To be considered for an award, an individual must have provided long-term, continuous, distinguished service to the offshore technology community. An awardee must have made significant contributions in the areas of the exploration, development and production, management and leadership and research and development.

Sterling said he is honored and humbled to be selected for this award.

"It has been a real pleasure, a lot of fun (and work, but fun work) to have been involved in OTC on behalf of ASCE/COPRI,” he said. “I was lucky to have been involved in the offshore industry during a tremendously dynamic period.”

The Heritage Award will be presented to Sterling on Tuesday May 6 during an OTC awards luncheon. Conference events will be at the Reliant Center in Houston, TX from May 5-8.  

COPRI Past-President Steve Curtis said that Sterling’s years of service and contributions to the field are invaluable. According to Curtis, Sterling is one of the most deserving civil engineers working in the oil and gas industry to receive this distinguished and notable award.

"Gordon's life-long dedication and outstanding achievements in the industry are a credit to our profession,” Curtis said. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve with Gordon on the Governing Board and be the recipient of an education on the role of civil engineers in the development and advancement of an industry, which is so important to our nation and the world.”

Billy Edge, also a COPRI Past-President, expressed appreciation for Sterling’s service.

"Your leadership is respected by everyone in the field and the benefit to society is warm homes and energy to serve the people,” he said. “You have done much and we are very proud to have had your direct input into the OTC representing the ASCE and COPRI.”

During his 35-year tenure at Shell Oil Company, Sterling served as Manager of Deepwater Projects, was responsible for the development of three record-breaking platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and revolutionized the process of deepwater project management. Throughout his career, Sterling contributed to 15 major projects in the Gulf of Mexico. With Sterling as manager, Shell initiated 5 mega-deepwater projects with a combined overall cost of $8 billion dollars. He also managed the companies Y2K project.

Within ASCE, Sterling has served on the COPRI Board of Governors for five years, spearheaded the Deepwater Infrastructure Forum, contributed to a myriad of COPRI technical committees and activities and helped initiate the COPRI OTC Hall of Fame Gala.

His dedication to the profession extends to his co-authoring the book Deepwater Petroleum – Exploration and Production – A Non-Technical Guide.  This publication helps the public better understand the history, technology, business and future of this multi-billion dollar industry.

Since his retirement, Sterling has spoken at seminars and taught courses on deepwater infrastructure worldwide. Most recently, he presented a course he developed “Introduction to Offshore Oil and Gas Systems” in London and Singapore. The course educates participants about the basic activities and challenges of offshore oil and gas exploration from both an academic and a productivity standpoint. It increases their knowledge of offshore exploration and production systems. The course distinguishes itself through an introduction to emerging technology being used for development of new offshore fields.

Founded in 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference is the world’s foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection. Attendance consistently exceeds 50,000, and more than 2,000 companies participate in the exhibition. OTC is held annually at the Reliant Center in Houston.