John is the owner of North Ranch Resources in Denver, CO. He has enjoyed a long and successful career as an exploration geologist and business owner. John received a Ph.D. in Geology from Colorado School of Mines and B.S./ M.S. degrees in Geology from San Diego State University. His career in the energy industry includes work for PEMEX, Amoco, Forest Oil, Snyder Oil, McMurry Energy and North Ranch Resources. He has managed several large, multidisciplinary teams of professionals.
John was born in Riverside, California and was raised on a citrus and avocado ranch. His early interest in geology was inspired by the presence of several pegmatite dikes that cropped out on the hills adjacent to the ranch. An early geological influence was Robert Southwick, a general geology instructor at Riverside City College. John was also influenced by his brother in law, Randy Ashley, a graduate of San Diego State University, who encouraged John to major in geology. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1973, he continued his studies at SDSU, completing a Master of Science degree in 1975 under the direction of Gordon Gastil. His thesis was part of mapping project and consulting contract with PEMEX to determine the petroleum potential of the state Baja California Sur.
At Amoco Production Company, John spent the summer of 1975 doing field work on the North Slope of Alaska, specifically the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. The following summer was spent on Kodiak Island, Alaska, doing field work related to the impending Alaska offshore lease sale. Later, he worked on various exploration and production projects in the Denver Julesburg basin. In 1979, John began a 10 year period with Forest Oil Corporation in Denver where he worked on exploration projects throughout the Rocky Mountain region. The discovery of Henry Field, in the southern extent of the Moxa Arch in Wyoming was a highlight. In 1989, John took the opportunity to return to school to pursue a doctorate degree at Colorado School of Mines.
While attending Mines, John worked as a volunteer at the U.S. Geological Survey, where he met his mentor and advisor, Dr. Peter McCabe. Peter was an inspiration to John and encouraged him to work on a project to describe the Salt Wash Member of the Jurassic Morrison Formation, a large fluvial system in southern Utah. A paper describing the evolution of the Morrison Formation and its utility as a reservoir model for high net to gross fluvial systems, was published in the AAPG Bulletin, and subsequently given the Wallace E. Pratt Award for the best paper in 1994.
John re-entered the workforce at Snyder Oil Company in Denver and worked on tight gas exploration and development projects in Wyoming. Notable was the early development of Jonah Field in Sublette County, Wyoming. The primary owners of Jonah Field, McMurry Oil Company of Casper, Wyoming, hired John in 1998 to direct the geoscience program of this rapidly expanding field. In 2000, McMurry Oil sold their Jonah interests to Alberta Energy (Encana). After the sale, John was Vice President for McMurry Energy Company until the sale their assets on the Pinedale Anticline to Shell Oil Company. All of these projects employed a multidisciplinary approach utilizing petrophysical, geophysical, geochemical and petroleum engineering techniques. In 2004, John formed North Ranch Resources to consolidate his ownership interests. He has continued to explore for oil and gas and has been involved in exploration and development drilling programs in the Williston, Powder River, Green River and DJ basins.
John joined AAPG in 1975. He has served the organization in various roles, including Associate Editor of the AAPG Bulletin, member of the House of Delegates, Rocky Mountain Section representative to the AAPG Advisory Council, and General Chair of the 2015 AAPG Annual Meeting in Denver. He is a two-time recipient of the Wallace Pratt Award for the best paper published in the AAPG Bulletin and received an AAPG Distinguished Service Award. He is a Certified Professional Geologist by the Division of Professional Affairs and served on their Board of Certification for 13 years. He is past President of the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, the Rocky Mountain Section, AAPG, and Rocky Mountain Section, SEPM. He is an elected Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a member of SPE and WGA. He is a Registered Geologist in the state of Wyoming.
John has been married to Diane Dubree Robinson for over 40 years. They have two very delightful, successful children, Sara (Kevin) and Daniel (Erin), who also work in the energy industry.
The John W. Robinson Named Grant is awarded annually through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid program to a deserving geoscience graduate student who is studying at Colorado School of Mines. This fund was established through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation in Dr. Robinson's name thanks to his dear friend and colleague, Michael S. Johnson.