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Bernard William (Bill) Pace, 1930 – 2001

Bill Pace graduated from University College Durham in 1953 with an honours degree in physics to join Seismograph Service Limited (SSL) at the start of the digital recording era. In 1957 he was made Party Chief for the Danish Crew. While working there he met his future wife, Lise, who had become interested in the Crew Chief carrying out the Jutland survey.

Bill left SSL in 1963 to join Conoco, becoming Exploration Manager. He worked with his old SSL colleagues to acquire seismic over the Harlememeer Polder and, during the early construction, Schiphol Airport. He joined Burmah Oil in 1970 and set up a geophysics department for Anglo Ecuadorian Oilfields to explore the Oriente of Ecuador.

In 1979, he joined Unocal as Chief Geophysicist in the UK. He was famed for the 'seismic interpretation test' for potential geophysicists. It was a great line through Dutch acreage (K-16) showing the Broad Fourteens inversion. History does not recall how many failed the test - but you had to really prove yourself intellectually with Bill before he would regard anything you did as worthy of consideration. It was during this period that Unocal discovered the Dutch Oilfields in block Q/1 (Helm, Helder and Hoorn). Many geophysicists hired by Bill in this period remember his paternal spirit and warmth, and his team underpinned a period of great success for Unocal.

In 1985 he moved to be General Manager of Unocal Norge for an unending series of licensing round applications. Colleagues recall great parties inspired by herring and aquavit served straight from the freezer and company cross-country ski days – all of which were great ‘bonding’ exercises, celebrations to mark the successful submissions. Bill returned to Sunbury to take over as General Manager Unocal UK. His relaxed style and gentlemanly demeanour fooled many a visitor. His sharpness, often in partner meetings at cost to his own staff, earned him the respect of colleagues and partners alike.

After retirement and the closing of Unocal’s UK operation, Bill took it upon himself to organise an annual reunion for the ex-Unocal UK employees. There cannot be many such societies, despite there being many ex-companies around, and Bill made it a success. In retirement he also served as Chairman of the Geopop research group, supporting the Universities of Durham, Newcastle and Heriot-Watt in their dealings with each other and the sponsor companies. He gave a course on exploration risk analysis for Imperial College’s Masters students. He enjoyed being with the young, passing on insights, tackling technical issues and telling stories from the North Sea’s golden age.

He loved his family, pipe, wines, aquavit, geophysics, honesty, frankness, clarity and tennis. He didn’t suffer fools gladly, but he will be surely missed by colleagues as he always made them feel like part of a family. He was a great role model for many and someone who always had time and advice to spare. His sons, Jens and Neils have followed in his footsteps.

The oil industry has lost an exemplary geophysicist and a great ambassador.

Patrick Corbett – compiled from the contributions of many former colleagues.