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Timothy Sullivan (1949 – 2023)

Petroleum geologist with a long and successful career, who never left the geoscience behind.

Tim SullivanTim Sullivan was a well-known and highly respected geologist and exploration manager within the petroleum industry. During his long career, he was instrumental in many oil and gas discoveries in the UK and Norway. His recent death from a tragic accident after leaving a local parish council meeting in the dark has left his family and friends shocked by his sudden loss.

Left: Timothy Sullivan. Image courtesy of Andrew Armour.

Experienced explorer

Tim was born and raised in Portland, Dorset. He gained a geology degree and master’s from the University of Birmingham. After university, he worked for the British Geological Survey (completing magnetometer surveys in north Wales), Conoco (as a wellsite geologist), and finally, Getty Oil (in the UK and Egypt). Tim then joined Saxon Oil, back in the UK, before the company was taken over by Enterprise Oil, in 1985.

At Enterprise Oil, he began as onshore UK team leader, but was soon sent to Stavanger, Norway, to be the Chief Geologist of Enterprise Norge, in 1990. Tim rose to become the Exploration Manager there and started his remarkable run of being awarded or farming into high-quality acreage, leading to oil and gas discoveries such as the Tune, Jotun, Siri Field, and others. After 7 years in Norway, he returned to London to become, firstly, the International Exploration Manager and then Chief Geoscientist of the whole Enterprise Oil group.

Eye for geological detail

The corporate takeover of Enterprise Oil by Shell prompted Tim to start his own oil company. In 2003, Tim co-founded Revus Energy and Agora Energy with various colleagues to capitalise on his skills as a leader and his reputation as an oil-finder. Revus and Agora were taken over by Wintershall and Cairn Energy, respectively, after success in both Norway and the UK. The third and final company that Tim co-founded, Origo Oil and Gas, was swiftly bought by DNO of Norway, who Tim became a part-time advisor to, along with several other international exploration companies who valued his insights and eye for geological detail.

Inspiration and guidance

By 2020, Tim was fully involved in his local parish council back in his beloved Dorset, eventually becoming Chairman. It was from one of these council meetings, leaving in the dark, that Tim had an accidental fall, which led to his tragic death a few days later.

Tim was thoughtful, considered, and many have remarked what a pleasure it was to work with him. A testament to his powers of persuasion, he was able to influence companies large and small, such as Equinor, Exxon, Lundin, Amoco, Norsk Hydro, and Premier Oil, to include smaller companies in their ventures. Like many of the best petroleum exploration managers, he never left the geoscience behind. He was held in high esteem by officials at the Ministry of Petroleum in Norway, who appreciated Tim’s entrepreneurship.

Tim leaves behind a wife, two sons, two daughters, three granddaughters, and many colleagues who are grateful for his inspiration and guidance. He will be remembered fondly for his humility, sense of humour, and sound judgment.

By Andrew Armour