M.  Ala*

* Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ.


The year 2013 marked the centenary of the inauguration of the Oil Technology course at the Royal School of Mines (RSM), Imperial College London, which was the first petroleum-related degree programme in the UK. The occasion was commemorated by a two day symposium and a formal dinner during 23-24 September 2013. Entitled ‘100 Years and Beyond: Future Petroleum Science and Technology Drivers’, the meeting was addressed by a number of distinguished alumni, high ranking petroleum industry personalities and leading academics. The centenary event followed the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Oil Technology course by a similar conference and dinner in 1988, the proceedings of which were published in a commemorative volume titled “Seventy-Five Years of Progress in Oil Field Science and Technology” (Ala et al., 1990).

The introduction of petroleum-related studies at the RSM is a tribute to the vision and foresight of its founding fathers who saw “… a need for a course of training suitable for those intending to follow occupations connected with the oil industry” (College Archives). From modest beginnings, the content and scope of the course expanded, and the RSM became established globally as a centre of excellence in training and research for petroleum geoscientists and engineers. During the past one hundred years the Oil Technology course and its descendants have served the oil industry by training specialists for its upstream sector, some of whom have risen to the highest echelons of their profession both at home and abroad.

Below is an account charting the inception of the Oil Technology course and its subsequent evolution into the current postgraduate Petroleum Geoscience, Petroleum Engineering and Petroleum Geophysics disciplines. The personalities involved in the development, running and building the reputation of the course and its offshoots during the past century are also briefly profiled (see also Williams, 1964; Ala, 1988; Pugh, 1989; Hobson, 1990).

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