Frank Rickwood OBE

Inducted 30 November 2010

Frank Rickwood was born in Cessnock in 1921, the son of migrant parents from London, George and Elizabeth Rickwood.

Frank went to a convent school at Nulkaba and attended Cessnock High School. He won a scholarship to the New England University College of the University of Sydney (now the University of New England), where he had an outstanding undergraduate career studying chemistry and geology. Frank joined the war effort as a chemist, before completing his formal education at the University of Sydney, where he was awarded the University Medal in geology.

Franks career began with the Australian Petroleum Company and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later to become British Petroleum), working as an oil geologist in Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Yemen and Central and South America. When at home Frank lectured at the University of Sydney, quickly rising to the position of Sub-Dean at the Faculty of Science.

Appointed to senior roles for British Petroleum in the United States, England and Australia, Frank became chief executive of BP Alaska in 1969.  During the next decade, he oversaw the discovery of huge deposits of oil in Alaska, the development of the Prudhoe oilfields, and construction of the 1,286 km long Alaskan pipeline, which now supplies nearly 10 per cent of North American oil. At that time, this project was the biggest private enterprise engineering project ever undertaken.

Following his Alaskan success, Frank became chief executive of BP Petroleum Development, and also sat on the main board of BP Trading in London as the director responsible for the company's worldwide oil exploration program. He retired from BP in 1981, but continued on the boards of Ampol and Pioneer International, and as an advisor to BHP.  Frank became chairman of major Australian company Oil Search, which developed a newly discovered oil resource in Papua New Guinea.

Frank was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of New England, the Haddon Forrester King Medal of the Australian Academy of Science in 1993 and the OBE, personally awarded by Queen Elizabeth II on board The Royal Yacht Britannia.

Frank was the man for whom a British Petroleum public relations writer originally coined the phrase ‘the quiet achiever’ - a slogan later used worldwide in the company's advertising campaigns.

Away from work, Frank had a passion for collecting art and the restoration of old and gracious homes, including the historic Hunter Valley house, Minimbah.

Frank Rickwood eventually settled into retirement in 1992 in Barbados, where he died, aged 88, in 2009.

For more information:

Plaque location
34 Vincent Street, Cessnock (garden bed)