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Steven James O’Connor 1951 – 2012


Petroleum geologist who worked on many successful plays all over the world and was a renowned trainer and consultant.

Steve O’Connor was a geologist in the petroleum industry for 35 years working North Africa, the Middle East, the North Sea and the New Zealand petroleum basins. Steve was a Fellow of the Geological Society of London from 1979 and became a Chartered Geologist in 1992. He represented the Society as a scrutineer for New Zealand applicants for Chartered status. He was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, where he was a Certified Petroleum Geologist (1988).

Steve graduated from Leicester University with a 2:1 in Geology in 1974 and immediately started as a geological engineer with local consultancy firm Nicholls Colton. In 1975 he moved to the petroleum industry and Libya. He worked in Libya as a mud logger for two years and then joined Conoco and the Oasis partnership where he worked the Tertiary reservoirs of the Gialo Field. After a brief spell in London working the Weald Basin Steve moved to the UAE in 1979 and would stay until 1983 working first for Conoco on the SW Feteh Field and then Amoco, drilling 14 successful wells on the giant Sajaa Field and drilling the South Juweiza discovery. May 1983 saw a move to Houston where he led an exploration team that made two gas discoveries in the Oman thrust system.

From 1985 to 1993 Steve worked in London for Amoco. He led teams working most of the North Sea basins, responsible for five New Field discoveries. He also worked as an individual contributor. He represented Amoco on the UKOOA sponsored revision of North Sea stratigraphy and became a recognised industry expert in the interpretation of pressure data. In 1994, after an assignment to Amoco Tulsa Research Centre, Steve and the family emigrated to New Zealand and Steve took the position of Exploration Manager with Fletcher Challenge Energy, where he stayed until 1999, overseeing the drilling of four discoveries.

From 1999 to 2012 Steve was the Managing Director of Diligenz, a small geoscience consultancy providing high quality technical services to the New Zealand petroleum industry. During this period Steve found himself helping many small exploration companies make sense of their assets. Throughout his career Steve was driven by the desire for technical excellence. He was the author or co-author of a diverse collection of 15 papers; he gave courses on pressure analysis at Amoco and presented the “Fundamentals of Petroleum” course for the New Zealand Petroleum Skills Association.

Steve married Cheryl at the British Consulate in Tripoli in 1977. They have two loving children, a son Liam (29 years) and a daughter Kerry (27 years). Steve’s enthusiasm for petroleum geology was eclipsed only by his love for music. He was an accomplished guitarist. He entertained expats in Libya and the UAE and could often be found with singer Cheryl entertaining the crowds at the Blues and Jazz festivals of New Zealand where they gained critical acclaim. Steve wrote the music for Cheryl’s lyrics and they published four albums together.

Steve fought cancer for nearly a year. He underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour in August of 2011 but sadly the condition returned early this year and was found to be inoperable.

Steven James O’Connor was born in Great Yarmouth on 15 May 1951. He passed away peacefully in his sleep in New Plymouth, New Zealand on 2 April 2012 with his loving wife Cheryl, his son Liam and daughter Kerry by his side. He leaves behind many friends in the oil and gas and music communities where he will be sadly missed.

Robin Crawford