The University of Texas at Austin

Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering Celebrates its 2012 Distinguished Alumni

PGE Distinguished Alumni graphic

The Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering will honor six alumni at its third annual Distinguished Alumni reception. Learn more about the events taking place during the Distinguished Alumni weekend Nov. 9-10.

The department's Distinguished Alumni program recognizes six individuals every year for their outstanding contributions to the oil and gas industry, shining a light on their technical and business accomplishments, as well as their leadership in promoting the oil and gas industry.

Joe Walter Jr.

Joe C. Walter Jr.
B.S. '49 | Founder, Houston Oil and Minerals; founder, Walter Oil and Gas Corp.

Joseph Charles Walter Jr., or Joe as he was widely known, was a Houston native. He began his career in the form of an apprenticeship with Jersey Standard/Humble, where he applied his petroleum and geology education toward evaluating oil reserves.

In 1957, he set up shop in association with his father's business, Houston Royalty Co., which later merged with Royalties Management Co. from Tulsa, creating Houston Oil and Minerals. The company went public in the late 1960's, developing a major gas play in the Frio of Galveston Bay, growing soon to a number of international projects ranging from the North Sea to Africa, the Middle East, South America and Australia. Before negotiating a merger with Tenneco in 1981, Walter built Houston Oil and Minerals from a startup to a 1,400-employee company with five divisions.

In 1983, he formed Walter Oil and Gas. During this time he also served as the president of the Petroleum Club in Houston.

James C. JC Anderson

James C. "JC" Anderson
B.S. '54 | Chairman, Anderson Energy

James Carl Anderson personifies the entrepreneurial spirit. It's a spirit that has carried him from the plains of his native Nebraska to the pinnacles of success in the international oil and natural gas industry.

Anderson's remarkable career started at Amoco Petroleum Corp. where he was an engineering executive in the United States and Canada. After Amoco, he became founder, chairman and chief executive officer of two energy exploration and development firms in his adopted home of Alberta, Canada. Anderson Exploration grew steadily through both development and acquisitions to become Canada's fifth largest natural gas producer, with operations ranging from the Beaufort Sea to Manitoba. It went public in Canada in 1988, and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001. That same year, it sold for $4.6 billion to U.S. based Devon Energy.

Anderson has since established a new entity, Anderson Energy, where he serves as chairman.

Arlen Edgar

Arlen Edgar
B.S. '57 | Independent investor, Arlen Edgar Oil and Gas Investments

Edgar resides in Midland, where he operates as an independent investor under his name Arlen Edgar. A native of Stephenville, Texas, Edgar began his career with Pan American Petroleum before joining Leibrock, Landreth, Campbell and Callaway (LLC&C) consulting engineering firm where he was manager of the consulting division.

In 1967, Edgar joined Tipperary Land and Exploration, which was involved in farming, cattle, shrimp fishing and hard minerals, but no oil. He spent time exploring Australia, discovering a major bauxite deposit, while also spending time in the U.S. He later served as president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. After significant industry experience, he decided to branch off as an independent investor and consultant. He now spends his time investing in drilling deals, while also staying involved with professional organizations and community and church activities in Midland.

Dr. Kermit E. Brown

Dr. Kermit E. Brown
M.S. '59, Ph.D. '62 | Professor emeritus and former professor and chair, Department of Petroleum Engineering; vice president of research, the University of Tulsa

Known internationally as a leader in artificial lift technologies and a pioneer of the industry-supported research consortia model in the petroleum engineering discipline, Brown enjoyed a long career in academia as well as service to the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

After completing his WWII service as a pilot, Brown attended Texas A&M University, graduating with a double major in petroleum and mechanical engineering in 1948. He began working for Stanolind Oil & Gas in Louisiana before beginning his graduate studies in petroleum engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Brown then joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1955, and became associate professor before moving to Tulsa to become professor and chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department at the University of Tulsa. Later in his career, he became associate dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and eventually vice president of research and chairman of the Resources Engineering Division.

Brown has been most well known for his book, The Technology of Artificial Lift Methods–Volume 4: Production Optimization of Oil and Gas Wells by Nodal Systems Analysis, which is still being used by industry and students.

Dr. Varadarajan DW Dwarakanath

Dr. Varadarajan "DW" Dwarakanath
M.S. '92, Ph.D. '97 | Team manager, reservoir performance and characterization, Chevron Energy Technology Co.

DW began his professional career at Austin-based INTERA as a senior geoscientist. During his time at INTERA, DW became known for his expertise in environmental contaminant identification and remediation strategies. However, with his passion rooted in the energy industry, DW joined Chevron in 2005.

In just six months, he rose from reservoir simulation engineer at Chevron into the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) group within Chevron Energy Technology Co. as a lead reservoir engineer. In 2008 he assumed his current role as team manager for reservoir performance and characterization, where he helps Chevron implement emerging EOR technologies in mature fields. Under DW's leadership, the company has one published patent and several more patent applications under consideration, as well as 18 peer-reviewed technical publications on a wide range of surfactant flooding and tracer research applications.

Stephen E. Skinner

Stephen E. Skinner
B.S. '01 | Co-founder and chief operating officer, Ursa Resources Group II LLC

Born in Greenville, S.C., "Steve" Skinner started his career with Phillips Petroleum, later ConocoPhillips. There he rotated through various assignments in reservoir, production and drilling engineering applying the fundamentals of his UT PGE education. When the Fayetteville Shale play in Arkansas began to take off, Skinner moved to Southwestern Energy and helped the company complete some of the first multi-stage horizontal wells in the play. He parlayed these experiences into a new shale development leadership position with Edge Petroleum.

Although these experiences were invaluable to him, Skinner felt the entrepreneurial calling, and in 2008 was a cofounding partner of the first of three new companies "bearing" the name Ursa Resources. Today, Skinner is the chief operating officer of Ursa Resources Group II LLC in Houston, Texas. The third company to bear the Ursa appellation actively explores domestically for frontier liquid hydrocarbon plays to drill while also acquiring natural gas producing properties.