BGSU Magazine Spring 2010

The quest for black gold

Scientific sleuthing key to exploring the world for hidden oil

Bill Schrom

Bill Schrom '79 loves his job as an oil prospector who specializes in finding untapped pockets of petroleum in supposedly "played-out" oilfields. The 52-year-old CEO of Geotrace points to the "thrill is in the detective work of finding millions of barrels of oil nobody knew was there."

A recent example saw Schrom and his crew of petroleum sleuths come up with a way to drill a third well near two existing, underproducing wells in the Gulf of Mexico in order to take out more oil.

"After we finished our analysis, the drillers went back and did their thing. And it wasn't long before they 'hit the pay.' They increased production by 35 percent - after everybody figured that field had been pumped dry."

"What we do is pretty specialized," explains Schrom, who these days manages more than 250 employees located in the U.S., United Kingdom, Egypt, Dubai, Libya, Russia and several other foreign locales. "The key thing about our business is that we don't use 'big iron' tools such as drilling ships or vibrator trucks. Instead, we rely on our expertise in taking already-collected drilling information and then work like detectives to find the clues that will tell us where oil deposits may still be hidden."

Ernst & Young named Schrom one of its Entrepreneur of the Year Award finalists in 2008, after the former BGSU international business major masterminded a 35 percent upsurge in global sales for his Houston-based firm. 

"When we find a sizable oil deposit in a played-out field, that’s a 'win-win' for everybody," he says. "Each time we go back and locate more oil in fields that were supposedly played out, we're making our energy future more secure - and that’s a big part of why I keep on working so hard!"