With more than 35 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, Al Şehsuvaroğlu is equally at home in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.
The former nuclear engineering graduate-turned-global strategist currently resides in France and can trace his successful career path back to his time attending Cowley College in Arkansas City.
Al was born in Istanbul, Turkey on Jan. 1, 1955 to Professor Bedi N. İ. Şehsuvaroğlu and Leylâ Günseli (née) Pirigil. His father was a professor of history of medicine and deontology, and his mother a lyric soprano, poet and highly accomplished painter.
Growing up, he attended a couple of local grammar schools, then a school in London and a Jesuit boys’ middle school, followed by civil and military schools in Istanbul, and he finally finished high school in Arkansas City.
While in high school in Istanbul, Şehsuvaroğlu was selected to take part in an international scholarship entry exam in 1971.
He won the exam and received a scholarship provided by American Field Services (AFS), which linked willing host families with academically strong students from around the world.
While attending Arkansas City High School, he lived with Ed and Margaret Gilliland. Ed Gilliland was a member of Cowley College’s first board of trustees and also was the first president of the Cowley College Endowment Association (now Cowley College Foundation).
“Living with them was an incredible good fortune on my part,” Şehsuvaroğlu said.
He had to go back to Turkey for at least one year as part of the conditions of his AFS scholarship. There, he enrolled in Bosphorus University (formerly called Robert College). He returned to Cowley College in the fall semester of 1974.
While at Cowley, Şehsuvaroğlu was chosen to be listed in “Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges” in 1976 and did some freelance writing for the school paper.
However, his initial year at Cowley was financially hard, but thanks to the thoughtful gesture of then president Gwen Nelson, he was given a one-time scholarship and a part-time job on campus, which helped him to pay tuition, room and board.
Şehsuvaroğlu has fond memories of former Cowley physics instructor Phil Braun and chemistry instructor Mike Watters.
“I remember visiting with Dr. Watters on one of my return trips to Ark City, when he reached over in his book case and pulled out a couple of my old lab experiment notebooks. He told me that they were so neat and tidy, he kept them as an example to show new students on how experiments should be done and notes should be kept,” Şehsuvaroğlu said.
After receiving an associate’s degree from Cowley College in 1976, he went on to obtain a nuclear engineering degree from Kansas State University in 1978.
The only higher education establishments offering undergraduate nuclear engineering in the United States in those days were MIT, University of North Carolina and Kansas State.
After graduating from K-State, he went to work for Halliburton International. Following his initial year, training as an EIT in Duncan, Okla., he was sent to Algeria, France, Holland, Texas, Scotland, London, Paris and Kazakhstan during the ensuing 24 years, going from a field engineer to general manager of operations.
Later in 2001, Şehsuvaroğlu was recruited into a startup oil company as a senior VP of operations in Kazakhstan, and then worked as a CEO and president of two additional startup public oil and gas companies in Kazakhstan and Tasmania, respectively. In 2008, he started his own energy consultation business.
As a registered professional petroleum engineer, one of his jobs is to perform reserve audits and assessments for oil and gas companies. As such, he became knowledgeable in the application of PRMS 2007 (Petroleum Resources Management System) in reserve classifications and thus became the only such qualified engineer in Kazakhstan. When the Kazakh government decided to upgrade its reserve classification and assessment system from RS 2005 (Russian Standard) to PRMS 2007, Şehsuvaroğlu was the natural choice to advise the energy minister and the Competent Body of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Şehsuvaroğlu was invited as a panelist for the third Kazakhstan Geology Forum, which took place in March in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, and subsequently following the session he was interviewed by the Kazakh national TV. The presentation was on how to transform Kazakhstan’s outdated hydrocarbon resources auditing and reporting system into something more acceptable by Western institutions and banks, i.e. to something akin to PRMS 2007.
The proposal since has been accepted and adopted by the Kazakhstan government, and the legislation should be in place by late 2017.
“I remember taking ‘speech’ classes at Cowley the first year, which were very helpful in preparing me to get on and stay on the stage of ‘life’s theater’,” he said.
Şehsuvaroğlu recently finished a six-field oil and gas reserve audit for a Korean oil company, in which he was assisted by the geology and geophysics company Petroleum Geosciences. He since has submitted — on behalf of a group of Kazakh technical institutes — a technical pre-qualification bid to the European Bank of Research and Development, which is financing a project to rewrite the sub-surface legislation for the government of Kazakhstan, taking into account the new rules for PRMS 2007. The proposal is to have him as the team leader and the project, if accepted, would take around 18 months to complete.
Living in numerous foreign countries for the past three decades has made it difficult for Şehsuvaroğlu to visit Arkansas City. However, he has made a point to attend his high school reunion every five years. At his insistence, his high school graduating class recently had an odd-year class reunion. Since he had attended all of the class reunions except the 40th, he and several of his classmates got together in this, the 43rd year since they graduated high school.
“I have tried to make a point on visiting Cowley College each time I came back to Ark City, so that I at least maintained some sort of continuing interest with the college,” Şehsuvaroğlu said. “I wanted especially to stop by this time, as I had not met Dr. (Dennis) Rittle and his team. I also wanted to meet Libby Moore’s replacement (Tiffany Vollmer), as Libby was my lifeline to the college during all these years.”
Şehsuvaroğlu and his wife, Rose, live in Nice, France. The couple have three children — their daughter, Séverine, lives and works in Los Angeles, while their son, Douglas, lives and works in London and another son, Christopher, recently received his bachelor’s degree from London Metropolitan University and should be going back to London to get his master’s next year.
As a senior at Arkansas City High School, Al used his free honors passes to study freshman physics at Cowley College.
“Cowley set the foundation, which later became my full-time occupation as an engineer, both in nuclear and petroleum industries,” Şehsuvaroğlu said.
Grateful to the school that set him on his path, he since has developed an Endowed Scholarship at Cowley College in honor of his father, Bedi.
“When I got accepted at CCCC, it was thanks to a set of scholarships arranged by Dr. Gwen Nelson,” Şehsuvaroğlu said. “I have always appreciated this helping hand that got me started on a long and successful career.”
This information was provided by Cowley College Director of Institutional Communications and Public Relations Rama Peroo.