Apache scientist awarded CSEG Special Commendation
Bill Goodway’s early introduction to science came at Brentwood School, a 550-year-old boarding school in County Essex, England, where two imaginative teachers made physics and astronomy more interesting than other subjects. Permitted to watch just one hour of television each week, Goodway and his friend Douglas Adams were hooked on space – and time travel – while they watched “Doctor Who,” the long-running BBC science fiction series.
Boarding school mates (circled, at right) Douglas Adams, left, and Bill Goodway shared a love of space and time travel – and “Doctor Who,” the popular BBC science fiction series.
“Physics was my love to the exclusion of many other subjects,” Goodway recalls.
At University College, London, Goodway became a “Star Trek” fan and, more consequential, he faced a career decision: geology or physics. “Geophysics was not an option at university. The North Sea oil and gas industry was opening up; if I had taken physics, there weren’t many jobs other than teaching at the university. I ended up in this business.”
His focus shifted from space and time travel to formations deep below the Earth’s surface. Today, Goodway is a highly regarded geophysicist working in Apache’s Canada Region and the Exploration and Production Technology group who applies his skills to gaining a better understanding of unconventional resources, including Apache’s massive resources in British Columbia’s Liard and Horn River basins.
Adams, his boarding school mate, went on to Cambridge and a more literary track. After graduation, he created a science fiction comedy for BBC Radio, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” that became a classic. Adams later wrote a season of “Doctor Who.”
Goodway, a senior geophysical adviser, was recognized by the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists for his contributions to the science of geophysics and to CSEG at its March 7 symposium in Calgary. The scientist received a CSEG Special Commendation award before a sell-out crowd of 300, including many who traveled great distances to attend.
To honor Goodway, industry experts presented technical talks related to his work, including land survey design innovations and AVO (amplitude versus offset) techniques that he pioneered.
“Bill is best known for a quantitative seismic interpretation method called ‘Lambda-Mu-Rho,’” explained Dave Monk, Apache’s director of Global Geophysics. “LMR is a very different way to look at the properties of the earth. With it, we are better able to distinguish oil from gas, better able to distinguish hydrocarbons.
“This is his biggest contribution to geophysics. Many people who write scholarly articles do their analysis in LMR space,” Monk says.
Goodway, who joined Apache in 2010, also was recognized for his contributions to the CSEG. His passion for his profession and the CSEG spurred establishment of the CSEG Foundation, which supports outreach, travel grants and scholarships for students across Canada. He has received many industry awards, including the 2008 CSEG Medal, the society’s highest award. In 2009, he was selected the Society of Exploration Geophysicists’ Honorary Lecturer for North America.
His work ultimately helps Apache do a better job of locating and spacing wells, says Rob Spitzer, the longtime leader of Apache Canada’s exploration efforts and now executive vice president of Kitimat exploration. “Bill’s work helps us image the rock properties and the results of hydraulic fracturing. If we better locate the wells and space them better, it saves Apache money and makes us more efficient.”
Goodway is always looking for a better way to solve a problem, says Mike Bahorich, Apache’s executive vice president and chief technology officer. “He doesn’t assume we need to use existing tools; if he doesn’t see the best tool in the toolbox, he is willing to invent new tools. For example, Bill has developed seismic acquisition techniques that reduce the environmental footprint of surveys without sacrificing quality.”
Geophysics, Monk says, is the use of sound to build images of what’s below the surface.
Goodway says he tries to develop “the big picture. I try to bring together aspects in the seismic world with geology, engineering and other attributes to get what we need as answer in terms of producing oil and gas. I am trying to gauge whether we are fooling ourselves or making reasonable predictions.”
In recent years, Goodway says, he has been pushing geophysical theory to adapt to the industry’s concentration on unconventional resources in shale and other formations – including Apache’s Horn River and Liard holdings. “The seismic world needs to catch up to the engineering advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.”
“Bill is a good scientist and a very cerebral mathematician,” Monk says. “He will write down very long integral equations and say, ‘See, it’s obvious.’”
“He’s very quiet and very humble, but he stands his ground technically,” Bahorich says. “He won’t sit silently when people do dumb things; he’s willing to speak up when necessary.”
Goodway says Apache – with Bahorich’s and Monk’s leadership – provides an environment that encourages experimentation and backs it up with flexibility and money. “I have the joy of thinking freely and brainstorming with colleagues. Most companies don’t do things this way anymore; I never thought I would have that opportunity again.”
He is still as engaged by science as he was in physics and astronomy classes at Brentwood. “Now, I am looking down into the Earth rather than the other direction. But all the things we don’t understand transcend my mind. It gets us away from the petty things that occupy us.”