The Early History of the Society of Professional Well Log Analysts
by Tony Messineo


In the 1940's, the oil industry guarded its technological secrets carefully. Companies recognized the value of sharing knowledge, but were highly selective about who could participate in this process. The Cooperative Logging Study Group, a "gentlemen's agreement" type of organization (i.e., no real structure or by-laws), was an example of this selective sharing of knowledge. It was formed in the late 1940's by Tom Hingle (Magnolia Petroleum Co.), and was made up of a baker's dozen major oil companies. Among this confidential and elite group of companies were: Stanolind, Sinclair, Texas Company, Magnolia, Amerada, Phillips, Atlantic Refining Company, Humble, Sun, Continental, Cities Service, and Union Oil of California. The purpose of the group was to study new tools and techniques, and to share the information. Each company had to contribute technical studies each year, in order to remain a member of the Group.

Once a year, a member company hosted a closed seminar. Two members of each company attended the seminar, where the newest technology and log studies were discussed, and new service company tools were evaluated. (No service company personnel or consultants were permitted to attend these seminars or to be members of the Study Group.) The information shared at these meetings was then taken back to the member companies. At least a dozen confidential studies, covering all phases of well logging, were distributed every year to member companies. In this way, jealously guarded secrets found their way into only selected hands; the oil industry maintained its confidentiality while also sharing advances within its elite ranks.

In 1958, the Cooperative Logging Study Group ceased to exist when one host company failed to hold the yearly meeting. The lack of a means to share information among specialists in the oil industry left a void. It created a climate that would be conducive to the formation of an association for these specialists.


During the 1950's, well logging was becoming accepted as a distinct science. Local logging study groups began to be organized around the country, but most were under the auspices of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (A.I.M.E.) or the American Petroleum Institute (A.P.I.). In 1953, Bob Hamilton and G. T. N. Roberts (Shell Oil Company) organized the Tulsa Well Log Society. (This group was later merged with the A.P.I. Mid-Continent Study Committee on Core Analysis and Well Logging.) The Tulsa Study Group held eight meetings a year, with an average attendance of 40-60 members. In 1959, Henry Blackburn (Sunray-DX) was the Chairman, and Tony Messineo (Atlantic Refining Company) was Vice Chairman.

During this same period, Don Davis (Schlumberger) organized the Denver Well Log Society, and Randy Elliot (Sinclair) was trying to start a similar society in Abilene, Texas. In Calgary, Canada a meeting of technical logging personnel was held on 4 August 1955. Mr. A. A. Brown (The California Standard Company), one of the originators of the idea, and A. G. T. Weaver (Shell Oil Co.) were the prime movers for the establishment of a society and called it the Canadian Society for Well Log Interpretation. It was incorporated in January 1957 and is the oldest national well log society.

Around the same time, several symposiums were held, and they added impetus to the growing movement toward the formation of well log societies. In 1955, the Gulf Coast Section of the A.I.M.E. held one of the first two-day symposiums on well logging, and it was very well attended. In November 1956, the School of Business Administration, of McMurray College, in Abilene, Texas, held a two-day conference on "Well Logging Interpretations." Over 200 people attended. Because of the success of this conference, the Dean of the School (Dr. Andrew Cecil) sponsored two more, in October 1957, and in 1958. Attendance remained high, and profits were excellent, but, unfortunately, the quality of the logging papers began to decline by the third conference.

In November 1959, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists held a two-day logging symposium in Los Angeles; it was well attended. The Society of Petroleum Engineeers (S.P.E.) held a conference in Houston, Texas, in 1959, but there were only a few papers on well log interpretation among the presentations.

During a drive home from a disappointing Society of Petroleum Geophysics meeting in Houston, Bob Hamilton and Wilbur Haynes (Pan American Oil Co.) decided that the time was right for the formation of a log analysis society. Tulsa was the ideal location to start such a society, since it had the largest concentration of oil companies with logging staffs in the country. Tulsa could also draw support from Bartlesville, Oklahoma City, and Ponca City. Moreover, a strong local group already existed (the Tulsa Well Log Society, organized earlier by Bob Hamilton and G. T. N. Roberts). Nine major oil companies had logging staffs in the area (these companies were former members of the defunct Cooperative Logging Study Group). Tulsa was also the headquarters of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (A.A.P.G.) and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. The time was ripe, the location was perfect, and the need was evident.


Bob Hamilton organized a meeting on 7 November 1958 to explore the possibilities of creating a new society of log analysts. Frank Millard (Carter Oil Co.), Wilbur Haynes (Pan American Oil Co.), and Louis Chombart (a Consultant from Wichita, Kansas) sketched the broad outlines of the new society. Wilbur Haynes discussed the idea with the officers of the Tulsa study group, and received strong encouragement. Invitations were sent to 12 other log analysts (who represented the nine major oil companies), asking them to attend a preliminary organizational meeting at Bob Hamilton's home on 9 January 1959. A total of 13 log analysts attended the meeting, and enthusiastically endorsed the idea of establishing a logging society. Hamilton was elected Temporary President.

When news of the organization of a logging society reached log analysts across the country, many called Bob Hamilton to support the idea and asked to become members. Bob realized the necessity for numerous organizational meetings, and suggested that these log analysts could best serve the Society by remaining active at their local levels until the Society was more firmly established. Bill Belknap (Phillips), Nick Landrigan (Cities Service), and Earl Sutton (Continental) were also asked to be charter members of the new Society.

The First Meeting

An organizational meeting was held on 29 January 1959, and the Society officially became the Association of Professional Well Log Analysts. Although Bob Hamilton had acted as temporary chairman at the original planning meeting, and as Temporary President at the preliminary organizational meeting, he realized the value of having the officers emerge from the major oil and gas companies. He therefore declined the invitation to become the first President of the Society. In doing so, he enlisted the support of the oil and gas companies in the new organization. Frank Millard (Carter Oil Company) and G. T. N. Roberts (Shell Oil) were nominated to lead the Society. Millard was elected the first President, and Roberts was elected First Vice President. Wilbur Haynes headed committee to draft a constitution and by-laws. Hamilton accepted the position of Second Vice President, in charge of membership, and also assumed the responsibilities for public relations. Working with Frank Taylor (former Tulsa editor of "World Oil"), Hamilton sent news releases to most of the "oil editors" in the United States. The new Society received immediate recognition and favorable publicity, and many letters of congratulations and support arrived from across the country. The financial and moral support from the major of companies was overwhelming. They supplied secretarial assistance, phone and mailing services, and release time for the new officers. Carter Oil Company gave Frank Millard the time to organize the new Society. His supervisor. Merrill Haas (Executive Vice President of Exploration), was enthusiastic about the Society, and became the keynote speaker at the first convention in Tulsa. His speech topic, "Log Analysts Are Important People," clearly indicated his support for the Society.


The original "proposal" by the four founding members limited Society membership to full-time log analysts (working for oil and gas companies) and consultants. Members could acquire and use the Society Seal (much as was the practice of registered engineers). Members were required to make technical contributions or lose their membership. Service Company personnel were to be "Associate Members" (i.e., could not vote, hold office, or acquire a seal).

Many meetings were called by Wilbur Haynes (By-laws Committee) during February and March. This committee proposed five classes of membership. Senior Member were defined as full-time log-analysts for at least nine years, employed by oil and gas companies, or consultants, with equivalent experience. Only Senior Members could vote, hold office, and attend any closed meetings of the Society. They could also acquire and use the Society Seal. Regular Members were those with at least seven years of experience in any industry or service company. Junior Members had to have at least four years of experience Associates or Honorary Members were non-voting but interested persons. Membership designations were not permanent, and could be changed by the Executive Committee.

The Senior Member status seemed to recreate the elitism of the Cooperative Logging Study Group. The enforced technical contributions and closed meeting eligibility reflected the same restrictiveness that had been so onerous in the old Study Group. The only change in the new Society appeared to be the inclusion of Consultants among the membership. As a result, many more meetings were called by Wilbur Haynes (By-laws Committee) to resolve the membership definitions problems.

On 16 March, the name of the association was changed to the Society of Professional Well Log Analysts, and on 26 March, 19 Charter Members of the new Society approved the first Constitution. The Society Seal was presented and approved on 30 March, and a new set of Membership By-laws was presented. (Senior Member status was deleted. Junior Members could not vote or hold office. Service Company personnel could be members but could not hold office.) The Executive Committee approved these By-laws on 28 April 1959.

The new Constitution and By-laws of the Society were presented to the entire membership at the 28 May meeting, and both were accepted. Permanent officers were elected, and headquarters were established in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (The Society was incorporated in the state of Oklahoma on 14 December 1959 as a non-profit technical trade organization.)

Bob Hamilton, as Vice President in charge of Membership, designed application forms that were modeled after the S.E.G.'s. Four hundred sets were sent out to prospective members. Hamilton also sent out publicity releases and photographs to 53 trade journals. Despite these efforts, membership grew slowly. The first new member (the 20th member of the Society) to be approved by the Executive Committee was Joe Owens (Phillips) on 10 July 1959. M. P. Tixier and Robert Alger (Schlumberger) were the first members approved by the Membership Committee, in August 1959.

Additional Chapters

Wilbur Haynes in Oklahoma City formed the first new chapter of the Society. It was granted a charter on 15 October 1959, and its official name was Alpha Chapter of S.P.W.L.A. (Membership in the entire Society had grown to 42 by this time.) The Tulsa chapter was formed during an organizational meeting on 3 November 1959. It became Beta Chapter of S.P.W.L.A. on 11 December 1959. Don Butler was elected its first President. (By the end of 1959, the Society had 59 members.)

First Convention

In December 1959, the first annual symposium of the new Society was planned. Tulsa was selected as the site, and Bill Belknap (Phillips Petroleum Company) was appointed Chairman. The following months, and after many planning meetings, the convention was held successfully on 16 and 17 May 1960 at the Tulsa Hotel. Phillips Petroleum Company agreed to print 500 copies of the papers at cost. The Society had $500 in its treasury. The conference was attended by 156 people, who paid $5.00 each for copies of the papers. After expenses, the Society's bank balance was $2,000. Phillips Petroleum Company never presented their bill for printing costs, leaving the Society in a very positive financial state. Wilbur Haynes presented the Society's first Gold Medal to Henri Georges Doll (Schlumberger).

Early Concerns

Prior to the first convention, almost half of the new members were Service Company staff. The new Board, under the presidency of Bill Belknap, made plans to expand the Society. A flood of new members, which alleviated the fears of Service Company domination, rewarded these efforts. At the 29 September 1960 meeting, the Executive Committee voted in favor of By-law changes that would eliminate all restrictions on Service Company personnel (i.e., these members became eligible to vote and hold office). The Executive Committee also voted to establish the office of Vice President of Public Relations. They again voted against a By-law change to establish Senior Membership. In December 1960, the new changes were sent to the membership; they were passed on 27 January 1961. In April 1961, the Executive Committee passed an amendment to the By-laws. This change allowed Junior Members to vote but not hold office. Amendments for Senior Membership, Fellows, and the use of the Seal were proposed, but again were turned down by the Executive Committee.




The first publication of the Society emerged in January 1961. It was designated a "Newsletter," and consisted of a technical article and Society/Chapter/Industry news. The Editor, Tony Messineo, was the entire staff and wrote the first four issues of the Newsletter single-handedly. Atlantic Refining Company typed, reproduced, and mailed the Newsletter to members, at no cost to the Society.

The Newsletter grew rapidly under the Editorship of Tony Messineo and Floyd Cash. It had begun as a 9 or 10 page publication and expanded to 30 pages or so. When Hamilton Johnson (Tulane University) became Editor in 1962, it was decided to change the Newsletter to a journal. Hubert Guyod suggested the name, "The Log Analyst,", and the first issue was released in August 1962.

Society Seal

In February 1961, Wilbur Haynes presented several proposed designs for a Society Seal. Two of these designs were considered; both included an oval with a globe, oil well derrick, and well log in the center; the Society's name surrounded the oval.

Of these two, the design with the oval globe was selected. Frank Millard, who chose an SP and short normal curve of an Oklahoma well as the final design, redesigned the original log representation. Frank also adapted the well log to show water, oil, and transition zones, as well as various shaly sands. Tony Pena, from Carter Oil, finalized the design of the Seal.

Second Convention

The Second Annual Logging Symposium was held in Dallas, Texas on 18 and 19 May 1961. Tony Messineo was Chairman of the Symposium. (The entire planning committee consisted of Tony, his wife, Rosemary, Dr. Floyd Cash (Elgin Corporation), and his wife, Mary. The wives also manned the registration booth for the two days of the Symposium.) Two hundred twenty people registered for the convention, at which 11 papers were presented, and the profit was $2,200.

A new Board was elected, with Henry Blackburn (Sunray-DX) as President. Only three Charter members were on the Board; six of the nine Board members were not from Tulsa. The Society had finally expanded enough to have outgrown the perception of being a "Tulsa dominated" group.

Society Growth

The Society expansion was not without its "growing pains." In the earliest years, Nominating Committees actually chose the next year's officers because only one candidate was "nominated" for each office. This was partly because of the small membership at that time, but also because the nature of the officers' duties limited the available "pool" of candidates. Officers had to be local members because of the many meetings that were held; they had to have the active support of their companies because of the extensive company time and expense involved; and they had to be dedicated enough to the Society to give the time and energy required. Fortunately, the Nominating Committees chose well-qualified persons as officers during those early years (and it was the dedication of these people that gave strength to the developing Society). It was never the intent of the Nominating Committees to hold "closed elections"; however, a complaint to this effect was registered from a disgruntled member, who even threatened to bring legal action until the Nominating Committees agreed to present two names for each office. By this time, the Society had grown enough to make standard election procedures possible, and the Nominating Committees had a larger pool of potential officers from which to choose.

A number of new chapters were formed. Among these were the Houston Chapter (formed on 20 June 1961 by Don Timko, and officially chartered with 48 members), the Casper, Wyoming Chapter (formed by Jay Patchett, of Pan American, and chartered on 10 October 1961), and the Midland Chapter (organized by O. D. Stevens, of Sinclair, Forrest Baker, of Atlantic Refining Company, and R. J. Logsdon, of Cities Service, in May 1962). The Dallas Well Log Society was organized by Tony Messineo (Atlantic Refining Company) and Dan McLenden (Lane Wells) in March 1961. After several meetings, and pressure from an unsupportive supervisor of one of the members, it was forced into becoming a study group of the A.I.M.E. As a result, the group dissolved, but later (September 1961) reorganized as a chapter of the S.P.W.L.A. It was chartered on 3 October 1961

Charter certificates were designed by Tony Messineo and printed on parchment. They were presented to the Chapter Presidents at the Houston Symposium in May 1962. All of the costs for drafting and printing of the membership and charter certificates were donated by the Atlantic Refining Company. The Society encouraged new chapter formation as a way of expanding and strengthening the organization. Part of this encouragement came in the form of a dues rebate. The Board decided to send $1.00 of each member's dues back to his home chapter, to help strengthen the Chapter's financial status.

In 1962, Richard Glanville was appointed to the non-elected position of Executive Secretary of the Society. He served in this capacity until 1977, giving continuity and strength to every Board during those years. He was one of the Society's most dedicated members. His home was the Society's "home office" for years, and his wife, Betty, was the Society's first paid secretarial help. Betty became a familiar sight at many conventions over the years, as she manned the S.P.W.L.A. booth.

Bob Hamilton once said that if the Society could survive past the third Symposium, it would exist indefinitely. The Third Symposium, in Houston in May 1962, was a huge success. A large attendance and a healthy profit proved that the S.P.W.L.A. was a viable Society, ready to grow.

No history of the Society would be complete without a mention of Wilbur Haynes and his dynamic, energetic personality. Although Wilbur never said "a few words" about anything in his life, a few words must be said about him. Wilbur was a dynamo of actions and words. He entered a conversation before he entered the room. Ideas flew from Wilbur like sparks. He left everyone he engaged in conversation exhausted. Besides helping to organize the Society, Wilbur designed the Society Seal and formed the first Chapter of the Society. He also had printed the first Society decals, and had dies made for Society jewelry (all without official permission). He would come to a meeting, show what he had done, and say "If you all won't pay for this, I will." (The Society usually did.) On his own, Wilbur ordered the orange and black banners seen in the S.P.W.L.A. booth at conventions. (Orange and black were Wilbur's school colors.) He once changed the date of the Dallas Convention without consulting anyone, and kept the hotel manager in a state of nervous anticipation. (The Society accepted the change.) Wilbur also hired a "stripper" to entertain at the Dallas Convention; his comment was that "she also sings." (The Society did not approve that!) Wilbur invented a grapefruit spoon, which he manufactured and sold (or gave) to any member who would listen to him. The spoon never made any money, but it made great conversation! Wilbur was one of those unique, unusual, and gifted persons without whom an organization can become commonplace and dull. The Society was fortunate, indeed, to have Wilbur's loyalty, dedication, and creative energy.


The Society of Professional Well Log Analysts was formed in the late 1950's because a need existed. There was a void; the interests of log analysts were being neglected. The Cooperative Logging Study Group had dissolved. The other national societies did not serve the needs of well log analysts at their meetings. McMurray College proved that interest in logging was widespread.

The concentration of personnel, expertise, and efforts of log analysts in the Tulsa area made it the ideal place for the birth of the Society. The combined efforts, hard work, and dedication of Bob Hamilton and Frank Millard (the Society's first President) made the Society grow and flourish to its current status.

Most important in the survival of the Society was the foresight and effort of the original officers. Time after time, by-laws were presented to the Executive Board to create an elitist group within the Society; Senior Membership for a selected few and registered seals were rejected repeatedly. Closed meetings to exchange data and restrictions on participation by Service Company personnel were also turned down. Those early Boards knew that growth could only flourish in an open Society, and they had the wisdom to create that kind of Society. They were right...