2011 – Outstanding Explorer Award

Award: Outstanding Explorer Award 2011

Awardee: John H. Melby

Citation: The Outcrop, November 2011, p. 26

The Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists is pleased to recognize John H. Melby with its 2011 Outstanding Explorer Award. John has been a successful explorationist in the Rocky Mountains with Davis Oil Company, Apache Corporation and for the last 22 years with EOG Resources.

After getting his MS degree in Geology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, John began his career with Amoco Production in 1967, working projects in the Rockies, Gulf Coast and Alaska. In 1974, he was working for Davis Oil, doing exploration on the Moxa Arch and most of southern and southwest Wyoming. By 1985, John was working for Apache as the District Geologist, generating prospects in the Powder River, Green River and Wind River basins. His career at EOG took root in 1989 as Division Geological Specialist. John’s current responsibilities at EOG are geological studies and prospect generation in the Green River, Wind River, Powder River basins of Wyoming and the Denver-Julesburg, Sand Wash and North Park basins of Colorado.

This award recognizes John’s work in the current Niobrara Formation horizontal oil play within the DJ Basin, where he developed the play concepts and prospect for EOG. The discovery well, the EOG #2-01H Jake in Weld County, Colorado, was drilled in the summer of 2009 and resulted in the subsequent leasing of over three million acres by operators and the drilling of almost 200 vertical and horizontal wells and the permitting of hundreds more over the past two years. Based on John’s initial work, EOG assembled an acreage position of over 400,000 acres, shot multiple 3D seismic surveys and refined its multi stage completions to become the leading operator in this play. EOG has drilled over 40 successful horizontal wells so far and has planned many more.

John’s Dakota Formation discovery in the Davis Oil Company #3 Horn Canyon Moxa Arch Unit Well in Sweetwater County, Wyoming became Blue Forest-Swan fields. He took a lead role in the discovery of the Storm Shelter Frontier Field with DOC/Southland Royalty, the Hay Reservoir–Great Divide Field, in addition to the Almond Sandstone discovery in the Echo Springs area. John also initiated a Lewis Sand development in the Cepo Field with Enron Oil & Gas in the Washakie Basin, Sweetwater County, Wyoming.

As with many prolific and well recognized oil reservoirs such as the Niobrara, many individuals can lay a partial claim to the initiation of the current play. However, John Melby’s record as an oil finder and his lead role in EOG’s Jake Well discovery has shown him to be a deserving recipient of RMAG’s 2011 Explorer of the Year award.