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Distinguished Engineer Photo: James A. Edmiston
James A. Edmiston

James A. Edmiston

Distinguished Engineer



B.S. Petroleum Engineering – 1982



At Time of Nomination in 2009

James A. Edmiston is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Harvest Natural Resources, an international exploration and production company with operations and assets in Venezuela, Indonesia, Gabon, China and the United States.

James was born and raised in San Angelo, Texas graduating from San Angelo Central High School in 1977. James began "kicking around the oilfield" at an early age accompanying his father who dealt in used oilfield tubulars. After high school graduation, he was introduced to the "wrong end of rod wrenches" working on a pulling unit for Pool Company. After a year at Baylor University contemplating his future life as a lawyer, he came to his senses and back to the oilfield when he transferred to Texas Tech to study Petroleum Engineering. During his summers at Texas Tech, he worked as a roughneck and ultimately as a derrickman for Gene Sledge Drilling and Santa Fe Drilling. He graduated from Texas Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering in May of 1982 with very little distinction but a lot of dreams.

Before he joined Harvest in September of 2004, James was with Conoco and ConocoPhillips for 22 years in various management positions including President of Dubai Petroleum Company (2002–2004), a ConocoPhillips affiliate company in the United Arab Emirates and General Manager of Petrozuata, C.A., in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela (1999–2001).

Petrozuata was the first fully integrated exploitation of Venezuela’s 8.5 degree API gravity bitumen resources in the Orinoco Belt with "cold production." James was Conoco’s top executive on the $4.5 billion dollar project throughout construction and full commissioning leading a workforce in excess of 6,000 at peak. The project was completed on time producing 120,000 barrels of extra heavy crude oil and converting it to 104,000 barrels per day of 20–degree syncrude, petroleum coke, and sulfur.

Before his time in Venezuela, James also served as Vice President and General Manager of Conoco Russia and then as Asset Manager of Conoco’s South Texas Lobo Trend gas operations, one of the earliest large–scale gas resource plays to use a manufacturing model for operations.

James has been a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers since 1978. In mid–career, he went back to school and received a Master of Business Administration from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He serves on the Industry Advisory Board of the Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas Tech, and he serves on the Advisory Board of the M.B.A. Program at the Mays College of Business at Texas A&M University.

James has been married to Rebecca Wolking Edmiston for 17 years and they have two daughters; Katie and Madalene. The Edmiston family lives on a small ranch near Cat Springs, Texas, which is 50 miles west of Houston.

It is a privilege and a pleasure for Texas Tech University’s Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering to select this outstanding alumnus for honor and recognition. James A. Edmiston is declared a DISTINGUISHED ENGINEER.

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