A Western Australian geologist is the first government employee in Australia to win a prestigious national award for encouraging petroleum exploration.
Mines Minister George Cash said Dr Phillip Playford from the Department of Minerals and Energy had won the Lewis Weeks Memorial Gold Medal which was awarded by the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association.
Mr Cash said the award recognised Dr Playford's inspiring role in stimulating petroleum exploration in the State and it was the first time the medal had been presented to a Western Australian since it began in 1982.
The medal honours the work of Lewis Weeks who discovered the Bass Strait oil and gas fields and pays tribute to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the petroleum exploration and production industry in Australia.
Mr Cash said the award highlighted the value the exploration industry placed - not only on Dr Playford's work - but on the State Government's role in encouraging and supporting exploration.
"This medal demonstrates the recognition that industry is placing on work carried out by the Government, and in particular by the Geological Survey Division of the Department of Minerals and Energy," he said.
Mr Cash said the mining and energy industries spent about $700 million annually on exploration in WA and approximately $250 million of that was on oil and gas exploration.
Dr Playford had spent more than 30 years studying the sedimentary basins of WA and was known internationally for his research on the Devonian reefs of the Canning Basin and the world heritage geology aspects of Shark Bay.
He worked as a geologist for the Department of Minerals and Energy since 1962 and in 1992 retired as Director of Geological Survey.
Dr Playford was currently working part-time with the department as a consulting senior principle geologist to complete research in the Canning Basin and at Shark Bay.
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