Abstract

Edward J. Baltrusaitis was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 5, 1910, and in 1934 he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in mining engineering from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After odd jobs and working as a surveyor for the U. S. Corps of Engineers at a dam construction site near Pittsburgh, in 1937, Ed was hired by Gulf Oil Corporation at $125 per month for sample studies of the Appalachian Basin of western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In 1938, K. C. Heald, Gulf's chief geologist, sent Ed to work in the Michigan Basin. Between 1938 and 1951, Ed examined samples from 5500 wells and came under the influence of Max S. Littlefield, the legendary Gulf stratigrapher and sedimentologist of the thirties, forties, and fifties. Ed was transferred to Gulf's Salt Lake City office in 1951 as area manager for the intermountain states, where his exploratory optimism propelled Gulf to acquire large land blocks in Nevada based on photogeologic work. In 1952, he moved to Canadian Gulf Oil Company at Calgary, where he replaced Robert P. Lockwood as exploration manager and became involved in Gulf's highly active program of exploration and development of the Stettler-Fenn-Big Valley Devonian D2 and D3 reef oil pools in the plains, and the famous Pincher Creek gas field in the Foothills belt of Alberta. He inherited a substantial budget and a staff including 72 geologists, 12 geophysical crews, and able exploration assistants including Stan Pearson, Oscar Erdman, John Wonfor, and Andrew Baillie. Ed resigned his position with Gulf at the end of 1953 to become vice president and manager of the Calgary office of Alex W. McCoy Associates, petroleum consultants. After leaving McCoy Associates, Ed joined Forest Oil in 1956 in Calgary for a brief period, and then sought a more challenging position in exploration. Thus, Ed approached Jack Gallagher, founder and president of Dome Petroleum, and was hired as exploration manager for Dome. In this new position with a dynamic company, Ed recognized the opportunity to revive his earlier interest in the petroleum potential in the Arctic after learning of the wartime oil developments in the U.S. Naval Reserves in northern Alaska. Based on a study of literature, photogeology, and other pertinent data at the Geological Survey of Canada, Ed and colleagues at Dome were impressed with the spectacular anticlinal trends, abundant salt domes, and great thickness of sediments, including excellent reservoirs and potential source beds. In his mind, the Allen Bay Reef Carbonates and Cape Phillips black shales provided the documentary evidence. Thus, in 1959, on short notice and prompted by two significant land filings by other companies, Dome, being well prepared, was able to successfully file quickly on about 3.5 million acres of land. An exploratory well was drilled at a favorable structural location at Winter Harbour on Melville Island in 1962 to an ultimate total depth of 12,543 feet, about 2500 feet deeper than planned. It was terminated in the Cape Phillips shale without encountering the potential Allen Bay Reef Carbonate objective. Although many individuals were involved in bringing the first Arctic well to fruition, it was through the imagination, obsession, and dynamic personal drive of Ed Baltrusaitis that this historical feat was accomplished. In later years, about 170 wells were drilled in the Arctic Islands area, of which about 27 were potential gas wells for future production. Also, some oil from Cameron Island has been produced and shipped by tanker to the southern market. Ed left Dome for semiretirement in 1965, but he also consulted for Union Gas Company of Chatham, Ontario. His efforts contributed to the discovery of five Silurian reef fields based on geophysical work in the 1965-1970 period. About 1970, Ed was involved in the reorganization of Clearport Petroleums, and ultimately in 1982 he retired fully. Most notable of Ed's varied pursuits over the years was the assembly of a large personal library of historical books, including a number of rare volumes dealing with the Arctic and its exploration. He stayed very active in his many hobbies and travels, and enjoyed activities with his family and friends at the rustic cabin in the foothills west of Calgary. Ed passed away on March 31, 1996, at the age of 85. He was predeceased by a son, Ted, in 1982. He is survived by his wife, Rose; daughters Rose Mary, physicist of Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Johanna, cellist of Bologna, Italy; and a son Victor, metals market consultant, of Oakville, Ontario. The assistance of Oscar Erdman in preparation of this memorial is appreciated.

You do not currently have access to this article.