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Gastech honours late George H.W. Bush with posthumous award

Sep 17, 2019
5 min read
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At the Gastech VIP Gala Dinner a Posthumous Award honouring the late President George H.W Bush for his dedicated service to the oil and gas industry was presented to President George W. Bush and Mrs Laura W. Bush

The Gastech VIP Gala Dinner held at the Post Oak Hotel in Uptown Houston was the venue for a ceremony last night recognising those who have pioneered the energy industry, by honouring the late President George H.W.

Bush with a posthumous award for his dedicated service to the oil and gas industry. The posthumous award presented to George W. Bush and Mrs Laura Bush acknowledged the pioneering initiatives of the late President H.W. Bush in the form of a hand-crafted silver replica of “The Scorpion” oil rig - a revolutionary piece of engineering commissioned by George H.W Bush in the early days of the oil industry.

In addition to this occasion, the evening continued with “A Conversation with George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, and Mrs Laura Bush, former First Lady, moderated by CNBC anchor

Brian Sullivan, along with the 2019 Gastech Awards and a performance by The Pointer Sisters.

An appreciation of the contribution to the energy industry of George H.W. Bush, has been written by Professor Jeffrey A. Engel, founding director of Southern Methodist University’s Center for Presidential History.

“George H.W. Bush had a remarkable life, and a remarkable resume. He was a war hero, a congressman, an ambassador, head of the Republican National Committee, head of the CIA, eight years vice-president of the United States and then, ultimately, commander-in-chief.

Historians are only beginning to appreciate his masterful leadership during one of the most tumultuous periods in world history. On his watch, the Cold War ended and the Gulf War was waged and won, leaving him with a record that surely ranks with Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson in the annals of presidential diplomacy.

He was also a businessman, and an energy pioneer. Not content to follow his father’s path to Wall

Street, fresh from college—and still fresh from the war—he chose instead to make his fortune in West Texas. A frontier for petroleum exploration in the 1940s as it is again today, Bush started in the oil fields, not initially as a driller, but as a salesman for the International Derrick and Equipment Company (commonly known as Ideco), a subsidiary of Dresser Industries, learning the complex industry by listening to those who knew it best.

The gregarious veteran, with a young and growing family, was a natural at the sales game, but he spurred offers from other fi rms.

Loyalty was Bush’s byword, in those days and throughout his life, as he stayed with Dresser until ready to strike out into oilfield exploration, forming with partners Zapata Petroleum.

Zapata was good, drilling 127 wells without a dry hole in the West Jamieson field.

It was steady but not spectacular work. Bush dreamed of more, knowing that real success came to those smart enough to use new technologies. Working with legendary engineer Robert G.

LeTourneau, Bush commissioned and funded the Scorpion rig in 1955, among the first of a new breed of mobile off-shore tripod drilling platforms, capable of drilling in up to 80 feet of water.

Zapata was a success, securing rights and exploring oil deposits throughout the Caribbean and

Latin America and ultimately as far away as the Persian Gulf.

What set Bush apart was his talent for bringing his salesman’s enthusiasm to bear in the myriad cultures such an international portfolio demanded?

Thus began the start of the future president’s famous rolodex, which included the name and number of an old friend or business partner in nearly any country.

The pull of global markets eventually drew Bush and his family to Houston by 1960.

Politics beckoned, however difficult in a state in which it sometimes seemed easier in those days to find a new drilling spot than a Republican, first as chairman of Harris County, and then in 1966 as a new member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressional service forced Bush to separate his fortune from Zapata, but his interest in the industry never left.

Neither did his passion for energy exploration, which culminated during his presidency with his signing of the landmark 1992 Energy Policy Act.

Hard to imagine in our own day, Bush’s energy policy enjoyed bipartisan support, in part due to his firm belief that energy and the environment didn’t need to compete against each other.

Among his signature achievements in office, Bush signed the 1990 Clean Air Act, to employ market forces in the effort to reduce emissions.

From the start of his career to its end George H.W Bush was a leader in the energy field, as an explorer, as an investor and inventor, on the ground and under the ocean, and then ultimately in every laundry room in America.

Historians may be only now recognising his true legacy, but the energy industry already knew that he was among the greats.”

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