University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


UH Energy Expert Michael Economides Dies During International Flight


Jeannie Kever

Michael Economides, an internationally known authority on petroleum engineering and adjunct professor at the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering, died Saturday on an international flight to South America.

Economides’ research focused on techniques to increase production, from reservoir stimulation theory and advanced reservoir exploitation strategies to offshore technology development. But he also took geopolitical considerations into account, realizing that technical considerations alone could not determine the success of hydrocarbon development.

“He is a globally recognized expert in hydraulic fracturing, in production techniques, generally,” said Tom Holley, director of the petroleum engineering program at UH, where Economides taught a masters-level class.

After 15 years on the faculty in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Economides had become an adjunct faculty member, usually teaching one masters class a semester and devoting much of his time to serving as an adviser for companies globally, as well as writing and research.

He was known for his outspoken views. “Very outspoken, but well-reasoned,” Holley said.

Dean Joseph Tedesco said news of Economides’ sudden death came as a blow to the Cullen College community.

“We are mourning not only the loss of an invaluable source of knowledge and leadership for our petroleum engineering program, but of a dearly respected professor, friend and outspoken ally of the Cullen College and the University of Houston,” he said. “He is deeply missed, and our hearts go out to his family and his loved ones.”

Ramanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer at UH, said Economides’ work had a significant impact on production stimulation.

“He got into the whole space of horizontal drilling. How do you effectively stimulate horizontal drilling? He was a strong proponent of hydraulic fracturing,” Krishnamoorti said. “He put a lot of science behind it. He would go into the field, and things would start to happen.”

But Economides wasn’t just interested in the technical aspects of extracting hydrocarbons. He didn’t shy away from controversial positions.

“He made you think,” Krishnamoorti said. “His emotions were on his sleeve. His students absolutely loved him.”

Economides was also a prolific writer, with hundreds of journal articles to his credit, and was the author or co-author of 15 books, including the well-known “The Color of Oil.” He was the founder and editor-in-chief of Energy Tribune, an online publication, and offered commentary on global energy politics for FuelFix, the energy website at the Houston Chronicle.

Economides was managing partner of a petroleum engineering consulting firm, and was well known as a leading energy analyst and consultant.

He was born in Cyprus and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Kansas. He received a doctorate in petroleum engineering at Stanford University.

Funeral services are pending.


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