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Published October 10, 2022
Joseph Leimkuhler, the University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Physical Sciences’ 2022 Homecoming Distinguished Alumnus, will speak Friday, Oct. 21, about current trends and the future of the oil and gas industry.
Leimkuhler, the chief operating officer of Beacon Offshore Energy, will present “American Oil and Gas 2022: A Forward View” at 11:30 a.m. in the Engineering Education and Research Building atrium. The event is free and open to the public, and an informal reception will immediately follow the talk.
Leimkuhler was nominated for this year’s award for his outstanding academic and professional career, as well as his passionate commitment to the future success of students. In addition to his honor from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, he is one of this year’s UW Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.
After earning his undergraduate degree in geology and forestry from the University of Montana in 1981, Leimkuhler went to work as a “mud engineer” on drilling rigs in Wyoming. It was there that he met Jack Evers, the former head of petroleum engineering at UW, when Evers brought students for a tour of a rig in the Snowy Range.
Leimkuhler was going to head to law school, but Evers had other ideas. Evers encouraged Leimkuhler to complete the undergraduate engineering coursework needed for graduate school admission -- which he did via correspondence while continuing to work on rigs all over the state. Leimkuhler, his wife, Stephanie, and their two children then moved to Laramie, where Leimkuhler completed his master’s degree in petroleum engineering in 1987.
“Joe Leimkuhler has long provided exemplary dedication to our college’s mission and goals,” says Cameron Wright, UW College of Engineering and Physical Sciences Carrell Family Dean. “He cares deeply about our students and their education, and he has played an integral role in preparing them for careers within the petroleum industry. He has more than earned the recognition of being a UW Distinguished Alumnus.”
Leimkuhler has positive memories from his time at UW.
“When you left this place, you knew how to run a rig,” Leimkuhler says. “I had internships working with students from bigger schools like Stanford, USC and Texas A&M, and they all asked me how I knew so much more about the practical side of drilling engineering. It was obvious they did not have Jack Evers as a professor.”
That UW education allowed him to hit the ground running, working for Shell in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico.
“We were drilling wells at 7,000 feet of water, which was the deepest in the world at the time,” Leimkuhler says. “I was always just thrilled to be doing what I was doing at the time because it was always unique, always a challenge. I managed to progress and eventually led that organization. Sometimes you wake up and pinch yourself: How did I get here?”
At Shell, he worked his way up to offshore well delivery manager for the Americas. In 2012, Leimkuhler left Shell and joined LLOG Exploration Co., where he served as vice president of drilling, helping grow the company into the largest private oil producer in the U.S. and the fourth-largest offshore producer.
In 2019, a new challenge came his way -- shepherding Beacon Offshore Energy from the ground up as the chief operating officer. Beacon is based in both Houston, Texas, and Covington, La., and currently operates six subsea fields and one drilling rig in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico and is executing development of Shenandoah, the highest-pressure offshore oil field in the U.S.
Leimkuhler and his wife live in Mandeville, La. He serves on several boards and has earned a number of awards, including the American Petroleum Institute’s Meritorious Service Award, the American Association of Drilling Engineers Lifetime Outstanding Service Award and the UW Eminent Engineer Award.
Leimkuhler serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the UW College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Petroleum Engineering Industrial Advisory Board. He and Stephanie also support UW with their philanthropy through the Joseph and Stephanie Leimkuhler Petroleum Engineering Dean’s Excellence Fund that goes to undergraduate student scholarships, graduate student stipends, undergraduate student enrichment experiences and faculty awards to those who distinguish themselves in scholarly work, as well as other areas of UW.
To view a complete list of previous Distinguished Alumni Award winners, visit www.uwyo.edu/ceas/development/awards.