SPE News

In Memoriam: Eugene Allen "Al" Breitenbach

Former SPE Board Member and SPE Distinguished Service Award recipient died June 23.

Single candle on background with scrolls

Eugene Allen “Al” Breitenbach, 1994 SPE President, passed away on 31 August. He was 86. Breitenbach’s career began at Mobil Oil and later Marathon Oil before starting his own company, Scientific Software Corporation, an energy consulting company. He is credited with writing one of the first computer programs for black-oil reservoir simulation. In 1968, he coauthored SPE 2020 on fluid flow simulation equations.

An SPE member since 1960, he served on several committees including Reservoir Monitoring and Testing (1970–1971), Education and Accreditation Committee (1975–1980), Symbols and Metrication (1965–1984), Distinguished Service Award (1983–1986), SPE/AIME DeGolyer Distinguished Service (1988–1991), Denver Section Officers (1986–1992), United States Council (1990–1993), Middle East Oil Show Program Committee (1992–1993, 1995–1997), Nominating Committee (1990–1991, 1993–1995), Distinguished and Honorary Member Award committees (1994–1995), and SPE Foundation Executive (2000–2002). He also served as chairperson of the Education and Accreditation Committee (1978–1979), chairperson of the Distinguished Service Award Committee (1985–1986), SPE/AIME DeGolyer Distinguished Service Committee (1990–1991), chairperson of the United States Council (1993–1993), and chairperson of the Nominating Committee (1994–1995).

He was the recipient of the SPE Regional Service Award, SPE John Franklin Carll Award, and SPE Distinguished Membership.

As SPE President, he focused on “Winds of Change.” He summarized this theme as “political changes in the world made immature basins such as those found in the former Soviet Union, China, several countries along the Pacific Rim, and many countries in South America become available for exploration for the first time in decades.” Throughout his tenure, he highlighted his four goals: to review the SPE financial system so that SPE could more accurately investigate costs and income and return to profitability; to define the new SPE worldwide organization that would reflect the changes that were occurring; to adopt a policy and proceed with intersociety relations; and to begin to solve the question of how to provide our technology to the new generation of “competent generalists.” Speaking about his presidency during SPE’s 50th anniversary in 2007, he said “My role during this challenging period was to be the designated SPE cheerleader leading the pursuit of our vision. It was an honor to serve.”

Breitenbach held bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering, all from Stanford University.