Michel T. Halbouty, quintessential wildcatter, in his long and distinguished career was involved in finding and drilling thousands of wells in his search for oil and gas. Never content unless he had an exploratory well drilling or planned, he was most pleased when a test resulted in a discovery, but recognized that dry holes yield information on where to build the next prospect. He explored and wildcatted in the conterminous U.S. and was the first independent to explore and discover petroleum in Alaska.
Born in 1909, in Beaumont, Texas to immigrant Lebanese parents, his career spanned almost seven decades. Halbouty’s parents, who were poor, shared the dream of most immigrants that their children would succeed in their adopted homeland.
Michel Halbouty attended Texas A&M University, where he earned three degrees; a B.S. in geology; a M.S. in geology and petroleum engineering, and a Professional Degree in geological engineering. Several honorary degrees came later, including an honorary Doctor of Engineering from the Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, and a Doctor of Geoscience from the USSR Academy of Sciences.
He was involved in exploring the geology of China for over a quarter of a century. Because of his scientific contributions, he was named Scientific Advisor to the Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development of the People’s Republic of China and an Honorary Professor in Geology at the University of Nanjing. He was also a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
His honors and awards are too numerous to list in detail. Suffice it to say that during his life he received the highest awards given by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, and many international awards. Mr. Halbouty was especially proud of his Horatio Alger Award, bestowed on persons who “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” to rise above humble beginnings.
During his term as President of AAPG (1966-67), it was Michel Halbouty who initiated and guided the formation of the AAPG Foundation which now distributes funds for the Grants-in-Aid Program.
The Michel T. Halbouty Memorial Grant are awarded annually to two graduate students studying geology at Texas A&M University through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid program. It is endowed by the AAPG Foundation through a generous contribution by the late Michel T. Halbouty.