February 8, 1933 – April 19, 2020
William Benjamin (Ben) Cline IV passed away on April 19, 2020 at the age of 87. Ben co-founded Gaffney Cline & Associates in 1962, establishing what would become a leading international oil and gas consultancy with global reach from offices in Houston, London, Singapore, Buenos Aires and Sydney. Ben was a petroleum engineer of outstanding accomplishments, a consummate ‘problem solver’, and a mentor and friend to many in the international oil and gas community. Ben was a graduate of Texas A&I with a B.S.c. in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, a registered Professional Engineer with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, a Chartered Engineer in Great Britain, and a Fellow of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers.
Ben was born in New York, New York in 1933 and lived in Providence, Rhode Island in his early years. While still young, Ben moved to Texas when his father opened his medical practice in Corpus Christi, Texas. He attended Roy Miller High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, where by his own admission his main interests were football (American) and cars (the faster and louder, the better). He enrolled in Texas A&I (now Texas A&M – Kingsville) in 1951 but his life was to take a dramatic turn when he contracted polio at the age of 18. Polio was a life-threatening illness for Ben, as it was for many at the time, but good fortune and the close attention of his father and grandfather, both medical doctors, pulled him through the illness. Ben’s father was able to have him admitted to the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Centre in Texas, which was renowned for helping polio victims rehabilitate from that terrible illness. He undertook a long, arduous but ultimately successful convalescence at Warm Springs. When he had recovered, Ben was left with a limp that would stay with him for the rest of his life and a new sense of purpose. In the spring of 1954, Ben re-enrolled in Texas A&I and pursued a degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering. He graduated in May 1958. He was characteristically modest when talking about his petroleum engineering studies, saying that he never found it easy, but always found it interesting. For Ben, the science and practice of petroleum engineering and the business of oil and gas more broadly were to remain passions for the rest of his life.
Ben’s first job in the oil and gas industry was for Texaco in Liberty, Texas in the East Texas oilfields. Ben then accepted a foreign posting for Texaco and moved to Roblecito, Venezuela with his young family where Texaco and its partner Ultramar (a British oil company) were developing and managing the Las Mercedes oilfield. This was a formative period for Ben, where he developed his skills and experience as a petroleum engineer and began to see the possibilities of making his own mark on the oil and gas business as an independent technical and management advisor. It was also a very happy period where Ben made many life-long friends, including a young Englishman with Ultramar named Peter Gaffney who had ideas of establishing a consultancy as well.
Ben Cline and Peter Gaffney established Gaffney Cline & Associates (now “GaffneyCline”) in Trinidad in 1962. In Trinidad, they saw an opportunity to start their business in the newly independent commonwealth nation, which was resource-rich and seeking support and investment to develop its national energy industry. While fighting the daily fight to win contracts and ‘put food on the table,’ Ben and Peter developed the ideas and principles that would guide the success of the company going forward. They felt that GaffneyCline must be present in the regions and basins that were growing and strategic for the industry and should offer rounded technical, operational and commercial expertise. Trinidad was the start of something special and GaffneyCline would eventually become a leading global management and technical consultancy to the energy industry, invariably by identifying regional opportunities and committing to build a reputation in the region as a leading advisor. In 1966, as the North Sea emerged as key area for oil and gas investment, GaffneyCline opened an office in the United Kingdom with a view to using the rapidly developing North Sea as a springboard for growth.
In 1969, GaffneyCline opened an office in Singapore to capitalize on growth in crucial Asia Pacific market (particularly Indonesia), which had become focus investment areas for major and independent oil companies. In 1977, GaffneyCline opened an office in Dallas and later Houston, Texas to increase market penetration throughout the Americas and internationally. From there, other offices were opened as GaffneyCline remain committed to being present in the regions and basins where its clients faced the greatest opportunities and challenges, including Sydney in 1985, Buenos Aires in 1989 as YPF privatized and the industry opened, and Caracas in 1994 and Rio de Janeiro in 1998 as Venezuela and Brazil, respectively, opened to foreign investment. Offices were subsequently established in Moscow and the United Arab Emirates to service regional clients in these dynamic markets. Today, GaffneyCline is present in every major hydrocarbon region around the world. Ben was immensely proud of everything GaffneyCline stood for, and played no small part in forging its ethos of excellence, effort and integrity. He had a great and lasting affection for the people that he had worked with over the years.
Ben Cline took immense satisfaction in bringing along young professionals in their careers and none more so than his eldest son, Bill, who joined GaffneyCline in 1988 and rose to play a leading role for the Company. Ben’s youngest son, Michael, joined GaffneyCline in 1999 and moved from Dallas to London to work closely with Ben. Ben retired in 2009 following the acquisition of GaffneyCline by Baker Hughes.
After his retirement in 2009, Ben took time to enjoy vintage cars and the beautiful countryside around his home in Farnham, Surrey. Most of all, Ben like spending time with the love of his life, Angela, who he had married in 1979. He took great pleasure in his family and nothing pleased Ben and Angela more than holidays with the extended family, holiday gatherings, days out at the Goodwood Revival and watching the Harlequins and England play rugby.
Ben was preceded by his parents, William B. Cline III and Mildred and younger siblings, James and Mary Lou. He leaves behind him a loving wife Angela and sons Bill and Michael, grandson Billy, granddaughters Ashley, Jordan and Alexandra, and nephews Paul Goranson, Jimmy Cline and Mark Cline.