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OTC Names 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Houston, Texas, USA (2 February 2023) – The Offshore Technology Conference is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Distinguished Achievement Awards. This year, the conference recognizes Skip Ward, PhD for Individual Achievement, ExxonMobil’s Liza Development project in Guyana for Company Achievement and Guodong (David) Zhan, PhD for Special Citation.

Recipients will be honored during the OTC Distinguished Achievement Awards Event Reception on Sunday, 30 April at the NRG Center in Houston, Texas. 

OTC Distinguished Achievement Award for Individuals
E.G (Skip) Ward is honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award for Individuals for his strategic vision, outstanding work and influence on the offshore industry. Ward’s contributions over the last 50 years have had a tremendous impact on the advancement of offshore and deep-water production and has guided the collaboration and consensus among industry majors. Additionally, Ward led efforts for the development and standardization of ocean environmental criteria and design technology, enabling the industry to consistently and safely move further from shore into deep water. Standardized criteria now exist for the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Bering Sea, Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea.

Early in his career, Ward led an Ocean Forces Group within Shell’s Research and Development group in developing technologies to better describe the ocean environment during storm conditions and the resulting loads on offshore structures. He then led efforts to use these technologies in the design of offshore fixed platforms and floating drilling and production systems, risers, and mooring systems for ever-increasing water depths and joint-industry studies to develop safe design and operating criteria, and industry standards.   

OTC Distinguished Achievement Award for Companies, Organizations, and Institutions 
ExxonMobil is presented with the OTC Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of its affiliate ExxonMobil Guyana’s Liza Development offshore Guyana. Liza Phase 1 was one of the fastest projects of its type in the industry, cycling from discovery to production in less than five years, compared to the historical 10-year timeline for projects of this magnitude. Liza Phase 2 then came online about two years after Liza Phase 1. Within eight years of discovery, total production from the Liza field is approaching 400,000 barrels per day — helping to responsibly meet the world’s energy needs at a critical time. 

Prior to the Liza Development, Guyana had no active offshore oil industry, and little was known about its metocean and seabed conditions. ExxonMobil Guyana applied technology and novel execution approaches to discover, define and rapidly develop the Liza field in a frontier oil and gas location, turning it into one of the most successful deepwater developments in the world.

ExxonMobil Guyana is also investing in local supplier capacity and infrastructure to support Guyana’s nascent oil and gas industry. The company’s “One Team” approach with contractors and Co-Venturers Hess and CNOOC underpins its collective commitment to safely and responsibly developing Guyana’s offshore resources to maximize value for all stakeholders, including the government and people of Guyana.

OTC Special Citation Award
OTC’s Special Citation Award is presented to Guodong (David) Zhan, PhD for his pioneering spirit, outstanding research, innovation, and technology leadership. Zhan is a world-renowned materials scientist and pre-eminent drill bit expert with a track record of developing advanced technologies from invention through to full commercialization. Zhan's impact on the offshore industry spans decades, from his academic accomplishments through his work in industry in R&D management and leadership.  He has made significant contributions at both internationally renowned universities and national institutes as well as global Fortune 500 companies. Throughout lifecycle of development, commercialization and manufacture of drill bit technologies, Zhan has demonstrated his exemplary dedication to the energy industry. Further, Zhan’s fundamental research on the frontiers of nanomaterials and nanotechnology and superhard materials is internationally influential, representing a breakthrough in applied material science far beyond the oil and gas industry. Zhan has published more than 210 peer-reviewed technical papers and holds 150 + US patents and applications. He has also been recognized with many prestigious international awards.

Zhan currently leads the advanced drilling tools team at Saudi Aramco to conduct research on the Ultra HPHT process for diamond synthesis and developed the world’s first ultra-strong and catalyst-free PDC cutter. The new cutters have set industry records in wear, impact and thermal performance to create game-changing “One-Run-to-TD” drilling technology. This breakthrough was recognized by garnering two World Oil Awards for both “Best Drilling Technology” and “Innovative Thinker” in 2021. Zhan has not only advanced the offshore industry from a technological standpoint, but through a career spent in providing mentorship to the next generation and leadership in our E&P society.  His fellow value his “out-of-box” thinking as well as his professionalism, patience, and perseverance. 

Founded in 1969, OTC 2023 will reunite industry leaders and professionals at the world’s premiere event for global sharing of technology, expertise, products, and best practices that address current and future industry conditions. The conference will be held 1-4 May 2023. For more information on the conference or to register, please visit www.2023.otcnet.org.


Since 1969, OTC is where energy professionals meet to exchange ideas and opinions to advance scientific and technical knowledge for offshore resources and environmental matters. OTC’s flagship conference is held annually in Houston. OTC has expanded technically and globally with OTC Brasil and OTC Asia. For more information, visit www.otcnet.org


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