domingo, 23 de junio de 2013

John Myles Bowen, 1928-2013: remembering a dear friend

Myles, center,  the Enterprise discovery in the North sea in the background 

I met John Myles Bowen, Myles, about 56 years ago, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, when I was a newly graduate geologist working for Shell and he was arriving to do geological work, after having had fieldwork experience in the Far East. He had graduated from Oxford and, later, as a doctor in geology from the University of Edinburgh.

For some time after his arrival in Maracaibo he did not feel happy. He was lonely, I guess, and seemed to dislike the fast pace of Maracaibo and “maracuchos”. Even I, coming from the central part of the country, had to adjust to the Maracaibo environment, although I must say that I soon got to love the easy manners and sense of humor of the “maracuchos”. In fact, I married a Maracaibo girl, now 54 years ago, and all my three children were born in Maracaibo.  

I went to the field with Myles and we became good friends. He did excellent work while in Western Venezuela and, later, was transferred to the Caracas office. If I remember correctly it was during his stay in Caracas that he married Margaret, who would become his companion for life. After their return to England I lost track of them for a long while until I met them again in London, when Myles was a member of the Board of Enterprise Oil. Myles was the main driver behind Enterprise’s important hydrocarbon discoveries in the North Sea. Because of this success he became almost legendary as an oil finder and his exploits became the theme of articles in oil industry publications and professional publications, such as the AAPG Explorer. All in all, Myles had a charmed professional life and received many honors due to his accomplishments. He was a geologist’s geologist.

He retired in Devon and spent a quiet life, together with Margaret. About two months ago I received a message from him. He said that he had been found very ill with cancer and his doctor had said that he had one, two months left to live. What can we say to a friend in this situation? I tried to be reassuring, that he had more time, but Myles was a strong individual and seemed to be at peace with himself. He told me he had no pain and that he was staying at home.

Myles passed away surrounded by his loving family. I still remember one day that he drove my Mercedes Benz at great speed in the Maracaibo - Coro highway. He looked so happy. Myles was a superb pilot and had no room for fear in his heart. He was always in control.

I extend my deepest sympathy to Margaret and their daughters.