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Jonathan Patrick (Paddy) Chesterman 1952 - 2012

fzdgtsdOil explorationist with a taste for adventure who worked in major plays worldwide

Paddy Chesterman was an explorer. He exemplified the best qualities of a geologist, not least in the time he devoted to studying rocks in the field all over the world. Explorers can be fidgety, even isolated at times: Paddy was certainly a great traveller but also knew how to be calm. He had an enviable capacity for sharing all his enthusiasms with his family and friends - rocks, trees, mountains and music leading the way.

By the time Paddy was born on 2 May 1952, his parents (my uncle and aunt) had already led his older cousin irretrievably into geology by mounting impromptu expeditions at any hour and any season into the hills of Derbyshire and along the Dorset coast: lucky us. In 1961 Paddy’s father Deryck, a pioneer in the development of sonar technology for mapping the seabed, became Professor of Physics in Hong Kong. From there the family travelled widely, creating an ease in Paddy with both travel and unfamiliarity that was a feature of his attitude to work for the rest of his life.

Following the family’s return to England, Paddy graduated in geology from Exeter in 1973, worked as a mudlogger in Singapore for a couple of years, then took the MSc in petroleum geology at Imperial College in 1976. In 1980 he married Linda, and they moved to Calgary, a fine base for them and children Julian and Melanie, as father set about finding oil across the world.

The long list of companies for which Paddy worked tells two stories. The likes of Core Labs, Occidental, Dome, Bow Valley, Devon, Canargo and Carmanah, are interspersed with J P Chesterman Proprietorship and Chesterco Inc. That first story is of corporate jostling as oil prices moved up and down, a familiar tale to petroleum geologists caught up in the action. The second tale is personal; an able geologist determined to pursue his passion for applying geology in the search for oil, while remaining his own man. Paddy was perfectly happy to run his own companies if others were losing their nerve: he just kept looking for oil.

The list of countries from which that search was conducted includes most of the usual suspects – such as Indonesia, Argentina, Georgia and Bahrain. Paddy operated happily in settings that would have had others yearning for familiar comforts: the taste for adventure first sharpened in childhood during those travels from Hong Kong never left him.

The tributes from colleagues and friends consistently focus on two characteristics not necessarily prominent in the same person: enthusiasm and personal engagement. Some great enthusiasts may fail at times to respond to the more subtle signals from those around them, but not so Paddy. There is consistent testimony in those heartfelt tributes to his real friendship and consideration, especially his encouragement of those seeking to follow his adventurous path.

On his travels from Exmouth to Exshaw, Paddy understood a lot about rocks and put them in a broader context, underpinned by fundamental principles rather than by models. Through his great enthusiasm he helped the rest of us keep our eyes on the hills, and on that larger picture. He died on 14 September 2012.

By Bryan Lovell