In Memoriam: William Joseph Murchison

Bill Murchison passed away on 15 July.

William “Bill” Joseph Murchison, Founder of Murchison Drilling Schools (MDS), passed away at the age of 88 on 15 July 2019. He worked in South Louisiana and Texas for Baroid National Lead Company and later Magcobar Dresser Industries. As Staff Engineer with Dresser in Houston, he developed the Spersene XP-20, which is still used in controlling drilling fluids today. Mr Murchison was sent to Iran by his company in 1962. This project required a longer time than was originally estimated, and he ended up working directly for the oil consortium until 1977.  During this time, he served as a drilling engineer, superintendent and drilling supervisor. He also set up a training department by writing training manuals and conducting classes in drilling and well control. His community service while in Iran includes reviving a nine-hole golf course, organizing lessons and tournaments for children. He also raised money to build a gymnasium for the International School and built a softball field.

He then founded MDS in Albuquerque, N.M. The company focused on drilling operations and training drilling supervisors. MDS now has training centers in Houston, Odessa, and Trinidad & Tobago, and conducts training in Wichita Falls and Denver. Bill’s son, Bill Murchison Jr., is now the President and CEO of MDS.

Bill published, “Rules of Thumb for the Man on the Rig,” “Lost Circulation for the Man on the Rig,” “Tales of the Oil Patch,” “Tripping Practices for the Man on the Rig,” “Murchison Well Control Manual,” and the “Murchison Drilling Manual.” All of these are still in print today. Bill was active with the IADC and served on the IADC Well Control Committee. He was passionate about drilling operations and about passing on his knowledge to the next generation.

Bill is survived by his wife, Anna Laura Palmer Murchison; daughters Sandra (Rick), Della (Jim), William J. Murchison Jr. (Karen), Molly (Scott); grandchildren; Anne Marie, Brian, Richard, Mark Wade, Jeannie, Grace, Kevin, Jennifer, Amy, Bill, III, Laura, Sarah, David, Julie, Kathleen, Joanna, Chad, Benjamin, Christian and Sean, plus 24 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held 20 July at 10 am at Saint Stephens United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, followed by a funeral service on 24 July at 11 am at the Malesus United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tenn.

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