Michael S. Johnson is a consulting petroleum geologist recognized for his contribution to the discovery of Parshall Field in North Dakota, a major oil discovery. Starting in 1949, he has spent his entire 61 year career in the Rocky Mountain Region. He spent his first nine years with The Amerada Petroleum Corporation attaining the position of district geologist for the Wyoming District in Casper, Wyoming. In 1958, he left Amerada to become Rocky Mountain Exploration Manager for Apache Oil Corporation in Denver, Colorado. In 1963, he left Apache to begin his career as an independent petroleum geologist and for the past 47 years, he has resided in Denver concentrating his exploration efforts in the Williston Basin.
Born in 1926 in Maryville, Missouri, of Greek immigrants parents, his interest in the oil business began when his family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1931, then called the oil capital of the U.S. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. degree (1947) and a M.S. degree (1949) both in geology. He has been an AAPG member for over 60 years and has had an interesting and fulfilled career. He has been involved in some 15 oil field discoveries in North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas. However his greatest achievement was in the discovery of Parshall Field in North Dakota.
Today, Parshall is the largest oil field, in size, in North America, and extends over 2.5 million acres with producible reserves of some three billion barrels. In 2009, for his contributions to the Parshall discovery he received the Explorer of the Year Award from the AAPG and also from The Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists. Together with financial success he has enjoyed the hunt and challenge of prospecting for oil and gas. This meant reviewing well logs, analyzing well histories, cores, drill stem tests and mapping oil and gas prospects and then selling these prospects to industry and enjoying the thrill of success and the disappointment of the failure of many dry holes. He has willingly competed in the ups and downs inherent in the oil industry. His message to college students, whether in academia or applied geology is that perseverance and tenacity are a needed quality and never believe that you cannot succeed in your endeavors regardless of the circumstances. He currently resides in Denver.
The Michael S. Johnson Named Grant is awarded annually to a graduate student at the Ohio State University. It is awarded through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid program.