2012 Industry Pioneers


Wagner Freire


Wagner Freire’s career in the oil industry began in 1960 as a geologist on a Petrobras surface mapping crew in Bahia’s Reconcavo Basin. In 1965, he participated in Le Petrole et la Mer (Petroleum and the Sea) conference in Monaco, considered a breakthrough conference on the eve of the opening up of a new exploratory frontier, the North Sea.

After subsequent assignments in seismic acquisition, interpretation, and data processing, Wagner was appointed Chief Geophysicist of Petrobras in 1968. In this role, he led the company’s move into the Brazilian continental margin with state-of-the-art seismic surveying, processing and interpretation technologies. Wagner’s interaction with the majors is credited with moving the company into the international arena, and by the mid-1980’s, his initiatives are credited with Petrobras’ successful early presence in the Middle East. In addition, his pioneering leadership was instrumental for Petrobras to compete or be associated with the majors in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Shortly thereafter, Petrobras realized the need to compete in the deepwater exploration arena and adapted the approach used in the Argyll Field (the first field developed in the British North Sea). More innovation followed, culminating in the discovery of the giant (approx. 130 square miles) Marlim field in 1985 offshore Rio de Janeiro. Friere led the company in this process.

Upon retiring from Petrobras in 1992, Wagner joined Deltaserve, a Brazilian service company. He became a member of an advisory group consulting with the Brazilian legislature concerning pending elaboration of its petroleum law and Brazil’s oil sector future. In 1996, Wagner received the Special Commendation Award of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.