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Franklin Russell Paul Hancock, 1949-2007

Franklin Hancock died in London on 18 September 2007 after a long illness. He was born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1949 where his father was a District Commissioner in the pre-Independence British Colonial Service. Following Ghana’s independence in 1957, Franklin’s family moved back to the UK. In 1961, after Franklin’s father was employed by British American Tobacco, the Hancock family spent the next four years in Lagos before moving back to Ghana and then returning to the UK in 1968. Franklin was educated at Ellesmere College in Shropshire and graduated from Imperial College, London with a BSc and an MSc in Geology.

He started his career at Exlog, which included wellsite work in Sudan, and in 1979 joined Chevron where he worked on Ninian Field, in the North Sea, from both London and Aberdeen. Jim Stockley, a friend and former colleague from this period, now with Elixir Petroleum, wrote: “Franklin brought a witty and novel outlook to whatever he did and was a pleasure to work with, whether in remote locations in the Sudan or in a pressurised office environment in central London. He was to a large extent unique in his ability to remain unfazed by what was going on around him, but could be relied on to make a perceptive and amusing observation. All this while still retaining a sense of professionalism. The sight of him stepping over a Black Mamba at a wellsite in the Sudan, while offering a humorous aside, made an indelible impression. Franklin never failed to see the funny side and had a zest for life.”

After leaving Chevron, Franklin was employed by Carless Exploration as their production geologist for Humbly Grove Field, near Basingstoke in the UK, where he supervised their development drilling operations. Franklin returned to Lagos with Mobil and worked on their offshore assets in the SE Niger Delta area. He joined Landmark in 1988 and, using his technical and communication skills, provided client support for workstation users in the UK. Franklin then returned to Lagos, with Landmark, to lead their team that established the National Data Repository for the Nigerian Department of Petroleum Resources.

Franklin left Landmark at the end of 2003 for a position in the Middle East but, in early 2004, Addax tempted him back for a fourth stint in Lagos. Between March 2004 and May 2006, Franklin developed new and original geological models for Izombe and Ossu Fields in OML-124. The recent success of the OML-124 drilling campaign, which has more than doubled the oil production of these 30-year old fields to more than 9000 bopd, is a tribute to his work. Franklin’s talents were equally effective in mentoring local staff who will remember him as a fine gentleman of the old school, who was always ready to share his knowledge and experience. His amusing habit of leaving notes on his office door such as, “I am out selling rice” or “I am on seat” are examples of his witty repartee.

Throughout his long association with the region, Franklin developed a strong attachment to West Africa and enjoyed living in Lagos. He was an enthusiastic member of the Lagos Yacht Club where he raced his own Tarpon class sailing boat and often greeted people at the bar by generously offering them a glass of champagne.

He was also a long-standing member of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain and had been a Fellow of The Geological Society, London since 1976. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and their son Edward.

John G K Glass
: Reproduced with permission from PESGB Newsletter