Lawrence “Buck” Curtis ’24

PE Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Curtis accepting an award

Lawrence “Buck” Curtis is considered the “father” of the Tension Leg Platform, radically changing industry thinking about what is possible in deep water, hostile oilfield developments.

Curtis graduated from Mines in 1949 with a professional degree in petroleum engineering after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

He had a 38-year career with Conoco Inc. and is one of the most celebrated engineers and executives in the company’s history. He was chief engineer, manager of international operations and general manager for production engineering services. He retired in 1988 as a vice president of Conoco subsidiary DuPont.

Curtis was the driving force behind 25 years of Conoco’s technological achievements, including integrating computers into remote monitoring of U.S. field operations and leading the company’s initiative to build and install the first Tension Leg Platform in the North Sea. This feat of engineering started widespread industry innovation in accessing previously unreachable reserves. He is also credited with developing 500,000-barrel undersea storage tanks that allowed tankers to retrieve oil off the Persian Gulf and Dubai, where there was no deep water port.

Curtis died in 1997.

Professional Societies

  • President, Society of Petroleum Engineers
  • Trustee, Society of Petroleum Engineers Foundation
  • President, American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers


  • Distinguished Achievement Medal, Colorado School of Mines
  • Distinguished Member, Society of Petroleum Engineers
  • Honorary Member, Society of Petroleum Engineers (awarded to 0.1 percent of members)
  • Member, National Academy of Engineering
  • Member, Offshore Petroleum Engineers Hall of Fame
  • DeGloyer Distinguished Service Award, Society of Petroleum Engineers-AIM
  • Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal, Society of Petroleum Engineers

Distinguished Achievement Medal, Offshore Technology Conference of the Society of Petroleum Engineers