Obituary – Peter Marriott Barber PhD


Dr Peter Barber, a well-known petroleum geologist and sequence stratigrapher, died peacefully in Murdoch Hospice on 13th December 2018. He was 68 years old.

Peter Barber was born in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England on 21st June 1950. He grew up with his younger brothers Martin and Jerry in Dartford, Kent. Peter was four years old before his parents realised that he was profoundly deaf. Despite this handicap and with the help of a hearing aid, Peter did very well at school and gained admission the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He graduated in 1972 with a BSc (Honours) degree in Geology.

Peter’s first job was with Core Laboratories working mainly in the North Sea, USA, Iran and Madagascar. In 1974 he joined Phillips Petroleum Company as a project geologist in their London office. Apart from field work in Egypt as part of his PhD research, Peter remained in Phillips’ London office until 1978 when he was transferred first to Singapore and then to Perth. In 1982 he was awarded a PhD in Geology from Imperial College, London for his external studies on the sedimentology of the Nile Delta, Egypt. After short spells with WMC Petroleum Pty Ltd in Adelaide and Petroz N.L in Perth in the late 1980s, Peter re-joined Phillips in 1990 and focussed his attention
on the geology of the North West Shelf. He published several professional papers based on his North West Shelf work, including landmark papers on the geology of the Exmouth Plateau in 1982 and 1988.
Peter and Phillips Petroleum parted company in the late 1990’s and Peter became a consultant. In 2001 he founded ISIS Petroleum Consultants Pty Ltd with former colleagues Paul Robinson (geologist) and Paul Carter (geophysicist). The consultancy was very successful and gained a reputation in the industry for high quality petroleum geoscience work. Personnel associated with ISIS worked on projects in the West Perth office and in the offices of various client companies, mostly in India and throughout Southeast Asia. Peter developed a solid reputation in the petroleum exploration industry as an expert in sequence stratigraphy. Peter had the ability to totally immerse himself in his project for days and weeks at a time and he produced some outstandingly insightful
work that was widely admired. He developed strong collaborative professional links with many top professionals in the petroleum exploration industry. He also acted as a font of knowledge and as a mentor to those with whom he worked. He was a member of the Geological Society of London, AAPG and PESA.

ISIS was incorporated into RISC in April 2014 and became RISC G&G. The timing of this transformation and name change was prescient as the rise of the global terror group with the same name would not have been good for business!

Peter was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2010. He persevered as the disease gradually took hold. He also battled cancerous tumours in various parts of his body in his later years.  He retired at the time of the ISIS-RISC merger and devoted his spare time mainly to painting and writing his book. The book “Journeys in Deep Time” is a collection of stories he originally wrote for his grandchildren in which he described various phases of his varied and eventful life. The book was completed only a few weeks before his passing. He maintained his positive attitude to life and his sense of humour until the very end.

Peter is survived by his wife Elaine, his sons Francis and Simon, and his two grandsons William and Bobby.

Peter, rest in peace. We mourn your passing but your passion for geology, gentle wit and kindness live on.  We all miss you greatly.

Chris Swarbrick

December 2018


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