Stephen Begg

Stephen Begg

School of Chemical Engineering

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Stephen (Steve) Begg is former Head of School and Professor of Petroleum Engineering & Management. His research and teaching focus is on decision-making under uncertainty, asset and portfolio economic evaluations, and psychological & judgmental factors that impact these, particulary eliciting expert opinion and uncertainty assessment.

Before joining the University in 2002, Steve spent 19 years in the oil and gas industry, most recently as Director of Decision Science & Strategic Planning for Landmark Graphics Corporation. Prior to that, Steve worked for BP: 6 years with BP Exploration in Alaska, in senior geo-science and engineering operational assignments which spanned a range of production forecasting, economic evaluation, petroleum engineering and reservoir characterization roles, and 7 years as a reservoir characterization researcher and manager for BP Research.

Steve is very active in the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), is a member of the Institute For Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), Decision Analysis Society (DAS), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and is on the Board of the Society of Decision Professionals (SDP). He is frequently invited to speak at Industry conferences and give workshops and short courses. In 2003 he was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer on the topic "I would rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong: a new approach to evaluating investment decisions" and was selected again in 2010 on the topic "Reliability of Expert Judgements and Uncertainty Assessments". Steve has Chaired several SPE Forums (research conferences) and Advanced Technology Workshops related to his areas of expertise and has also contributed numerous invited papers/presentations to such meetings. Along with co-author Prof Reidar Bratvold he was commissioned by SPE to write a book on Decision Analysis - Making Good Decisions.

Steve has a B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Reading, England and has taken executive education training at MIT and the University of Texas, Austin.

Research Interests

My research interests all fall under the umbrella of Decision-making Under Uncertainty

  • Integration of decision-making with economic evaluation - "real Options thinking": Value of Information and Value of Flexibility or Control
  • Decision Analysis and Decision Quality
  • Psychological (cognitive science) aspects of judgment and decision-making. Elicitation of un-biased (accurate) expert opinion, particularly probability assessments, for input to decisions
  • Development of tools and processes to remediate biasses and investigation of the effectiveness and durability of such training
  • Matching appropriate decision tools and processes to decision types
  • Overcoming barriers-to-adoption - implications for, and development of new, reward/penalty mechanisms
  • Portfolio analysis and decision-making


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2010 - 2016 Head, Australian School of Petroleum University of Adelaide
    2002 - ongoing Professor University of Adelaide
    1997 - 2005 Director, Decision Science & Portfolio Management Landmark (a Halliburton company)
    1990 - 1997 Staff Geoscientist & Staff Engineer BP (Bristish Petroleum)
    1983 - 1990 Research Petroleum Engineer BP (British Petroleum)
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2018 Achievement Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty Society of Petroleum Engineers United States -
    2016 Award SPE International 2016 Management and Information Technical Award Society of Petroleuem Engineers - -
    2013 Award Asia-Pacific Management & Information Award Society of Petroleum Engineeers United States -
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1997 - 1980 University of Reading United Kingdom BSc in Geological Geophysics
    1980 - 1983 University of Reading United Kingdom PhD in Earthquake Seismology
  • Research Interests


Prof. Begg teaches mainly in Level 3 and Level 4 of our undergraduate programs and in Masters by Coursework programs.

  • Decision-making, uncertainty assessment and risk analysis (decision processes and tools such as Decision Trees, Influence Diagrams, Probability and Statistics, Monte Carlo simulation and the psychological and judgemental aspects of uncertainty and risk assessment)
  • Economic Evaluation at Asset and Portfolio Levels ("Real Options", Value of Information, Value of Flexibility, Portfolio analysis and selection)
  • Reservoir Characterization (data analysis, 3D modelling with geostatistics and up-scaling)

Industry Workshops and Short Courses

Prof. Begg provides workshops and short-courses (half-day to one week) on topics such as

  • Business & Economic Evaluation
  • Making Good Decisions
  • Value of Information & Flexibility
  • Monte Carlo Simulation
  • Eliciting Expert Opinions and Probability Assessments
  • Portfolio Analysis & Selection

for companies including Exxon-Mobil, BP, BHP-Billiton, Maersk, Dong, Woodside, Santos, BG Group and Stuart Petroleum

  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 - 2022 Principal Supervisor Computationally efficient techniques for well control and placement optimization under geological uncertainty Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Yazan Arouri
    2014 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Decision Making for Oil and Gas Projects: Using Front End Loading and Decision Analysis More Effectively Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr David Newman
    2004 - 2006 Principal Supervisor Real Options Valuation for Petroleum Investments Master of Engineering Science Master Full Time Ms Yanhua Yao
    2004 - 2007 Principal Supervisor Human Decision-Making Under Uncertainty in the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time APrf Steven Mackie
    2003 - 2008 Principal Supervisor Multi-Objective Portfolio Optimisation of Upstream Petroleum Projects Master of Engineering Science Master Full Time Mr Otto Aristeguieta Alfonzo
  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2015 - ongoing Chair Academic Board University College London, Adelaide Australia
    2014 - ongoing Member Society of Decision Professionals - United States

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