George Egbert Uthlaut
Extraordinary Executive in the Oil and Gas Industry
Inducted in 2008
From Florida’s enormous Jay Oil Field to the giant Trans-Alaska Pipeline, chemical engineer George Uthlaut boosted the success of a number of defining—and far-flung—energy ventures. Called to executive posts at two major corporations, his extraordinary career was a wellspring of improvements in oil and gas operations and production.
Uthlaut completed high school in Orlando. He entered Auburn University in 1950, where he was elected to Tau Beta Pi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, and other academic and leadership organizations and served as SGA vice president and treasurer. After graduating in 1954, he was commissioned a Navy officer and served three years as an aviator. He then entered industry, initially in New Orleans as a junior petroleum engineer for Humble Oil and Refining Company, predecessor of Exxon Corporation. He performed exceptionally on a team redesigning Humble’s offshore wells. This team engineered the “super well,” new technology so far surpassing the old that new state regulatory strategies were born, another challenge to which Uthlaut notably rose.
Uthlaut became a staff engineer in Humble’s Houston headquarters in 1965. An emerging reputation for effective business management complemented his wide reputation for informed, inventive engineering. The 1970s saw Uthlaut promoted repeatedly, culminating in presidency of Exxon Pipeline Company, where he was Exxon’s voice during construction of one of the world’s largest crude oil pipelines, the Trans-Alaska. In 1979, Uthlaut became operations vice president for Esso Middle East, working with each Exxon Middle Eastern affiliate to ensure its access to world-class technology.
In 1981, he was called to London, where a push was on to secure Britain’s energy self-sufficiency. Appointed managing director of Esso U.K., Uthlaut oversaw North Sea explorations during a time of revitalized activity there. His office set the ambitious yet necessary pace of 10 new oil and gas fields annually entering development.
In 1986, Uthlaut retired from Exxon, and a new challenge loomed. InterNorth’s 1985 merger with Houston Natural Gas had created the small venture Enron Oil and Gas, a distinct New York Stock Exchange entity (largest stockholder: Enron Corporation). With Uthlaut on board as senior vice president of operations from 1987 to 1995—when he again retired—EOG grew into a premier independent oil and gas firm.
Today, Uthlaut works to grow resources that inspire students of engineering. Auburn’s Uthlaut Professorship in Chemical Engineering provides excellence in teaching; Uthlaut’s underwriting of renovations to Wilmore Engineering Laboratories and Ross Hall chemical engineering building provides excellent facilities. Further showing his affection for Auburn, Uthlaut serves on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, the chemical engineering alumni advisory board, the Engineering Keystone and Engineering Eagles societies, and AU’s elite “1856 Society” of involved alumni. He is also widely involved in community and charitable groups in Houston. Especially important to him is Faith in Practice, a medical mission serving the poor in Guatemala; he is a frequent team leader for visits there.
Uthlaut is married to Dorothy Stafford Uthlaut (AU Class of 1954), and they live in Houston. They have a son and a daughter and enjoy spending time with their eight grandchildren.