Rose receives Halbouty Leadership Award

Risky Business: A Career of Taking Chances

Peter Rose
Peter Rose

Pete Rose appreciates the affirmation that comes with being the 2014 recipient of AAPG’s Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award.

He takes the honor seriously and he clearly values the validation of his peers, but he has a casual approach to the recognition that suggests, perhaps, he isn’t particularly surprised to be getting it.

Rose, a past president and an Honorary member of AAPG, is now the retired founder and president of Rose & Associates, a globally recognized E&P risk assessment firm based in Houston.

But that’s only part of his story.

He has a litany of other accomplishments and accolades to his name from his long career in geology: He’s been an author, an activist, a teacher and the head of the oil and gas branch of the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as a recipient of other prestigious industry awards.

For AAPG he’s been president of the Association (2005-06), chair of the Advisory Council, a member of at least 10 committees (serving as chair of three), president and Life Member of the DPA, president of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, a charter member of both the EMD and DEG, winner of the AAPG Distinguished Service Award, Distinguished Lecturer and columnist of the EXPLORER’s popular “Business Side of Geology” series.

And that’s just some of his experiences.

Yet he cited none of these distinctions when he spoke of the honor to be bestowed upon him at AAPG’s upcoming Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston this month.

“I’m an old guy – I’ve been a geologist for 55 years,” Rose said. “So, you live that long and work in a profession all that time, you’re bound to do a few things right.”

First Steps

His self-deprecation, however, belies a storied and carefully considered career punctuated by thoughtful risks and self-imposed challenges – as well as by successes and setbacks that tested and refined his character and professional resolve.

The seeds of that career were planted at a young age when he met a counselor at Boy Scout camp by the name of Art Owen, who was a geology student at the University of Texas.

“He was a terrific counselor, and he got me into rocks and minerals and fossils and things,” Rose related. “From the time I was 14, I haven’t really thought of doing anything else.”

Rose said he didn’t quite grasp at the younger age what geologists did yet; he was taken more by his newfound interest in fossils and minerals than any consideration of commercial application.

“But it was a close enough connection that it sustained my interest until I could begin to identify all of the other stuff that geologists do,” he said. “So, I really haven’t wavered from that primary interest.”

The Shell Game

Along with the lasting impression left upon him by his Boy Scout counselor, Rose credits the influence of other role models from early in his career when he worked for Shell Oil Company.

“Shell had a wonderful tradition of keeping capable senior people around, and one of their primary functions was to mentor younger geologists coming up – and I sure did benefit from that,” he said. “A guy named Baxter Adams was an early role model. Baxter and I are still friends. I worked for a guy in Corpus Christi named Ted Cook, who is now deceased, rest his soul. He was a tremendous role model. And I went to Shell in Denver and I worked for a guy named Jim Clement (also departed), who was also a really super guy.”

As grateful as Rose was for the guidance he received, he grew to understand that there were some lessons and experiences he could only find by setting out on his own, out from under the protective wings of his mentors.

“I guess Shell kind of wanted to keep me in the research and science side of everything, but I felt like I needed to move into the application and management side,” he said. “That was a challenge, making that move, and I finally had to leave Shell to make that move, to get out into a leadership or management area.

“I never lost the scientific interest,” he said, “but I sort of augmented it with the leadership and management kind of stuff.”

Managing His Career

It was a risk to leave a stable, secure and successful job with one of the biggest oil companies in the world, and it didn’t come without cost, but Rose is glad he took it, and advises others to take similar chances:

“I’ve always felt like your career is not something that just happened to you on your way to retirement, but it was a part of your life you would do well to manage – to think about and manage. And I’ve certainly tried to manage mine,” he said.

“Your career is – granted, not totally within your control – but it certainly is within your ability to guide it if you’re willing take risks and make a move here and there,” he said. “You’ve got to decide – consistent with the state you’re at in your career – you’ve got to decide what you need to be doing to put yourself in a position to be able to do that.

“There’s an old adage I think is pretty good: ‘I was looking for a job when I took this job, and I can always go look for another one,’” he continued. “If you’re a scientific or technical person working for a company, there are obligations on both sides of that bargain. The company has every right to expect you to be diligent in your application of your efforts, to work hard and give total devotion to your company. And you have a right to expect to be paid a reasonable amount and to be given an opportunity to grow.

“If either party feels over a reasonable period of time that those obligations aren’t being met,” he said, “then the relationship should end.”

From Broke to the Big Break

In 1980, after he left Shell, he established his own independent oil and gas consulting firm, Telegraph Exploration Inc.

As Rose explained, the company initially thrived, with a client list that included most major U.S. companies and several prominent independents, as well as many international firms and state oil companies.

It wasn’t to last, however.

“We had about two good years and then things started going south,” Rose said. “I hit bottom in 1986 when the price of oil dropped. I came pretty close to going broke at about that time, but I managed to survive.

“That was a challenge getting through that period,” he said, “but a lot of geologists had to deal with the same challenges and still struggled through.”

Eventually, he went on to form Rose & Associates in 1998.

“It still exists and has my name on it,” Rose beamed. “That was very fulfilling. They still exist. They have a leadership role in the field of petroleum risk analysis, worldwide. Not so much among the majors – they have their own way of doing things – but with smaller companies.”

He retired from the company bearing his name in 2005, which also was the year Rose served as AAPG president.

“I’m still with the firm, but I don’t do very much,” Rose added. “They throw the old dog a bone every once in a while.”

Writing and Recognition

Since that time, he’s also served on the National Petroleum Council, and he’s written and edited books and articles and given lectures on his area of expertise – risk assessment of petroleum exploration ventures.

Rose is arguably best known in the industry for a book he published in 2001, which some in the industry regard as the bible of exploration risk and resource assessment: “Risk Analysis and Management of Petroleum Exploration Ventures.”

The volume is now in its seventh printing and has been translated into Mandarin, Japanese and Russian.

Also, of course, he has a long and distinguished career within AAPG.

That career reaches even far beyond AAPG borders; in 2013 Rose became the first American to receive the Petroleum Group Medal from the Geological Society of London.

The award is presented annually to a geoscientist “in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the petroleum industry.”

The award cited Rose specifically for playing “a pivotal role in both the science and the profession of our industry.”

In his retirement, though – along with raising cattle on his ranch near Austin – Rose has taken an interest in writing about other subjects besides geology: in September 2012, Texas Tech University published his book, “The Reckoning: The Triumph of Order on the Texas Outlaw Frontier.”

An excerpt from the book provided the Historical Highlights column in the October 2012 EXPLORER.

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