‘Founding father’ of Soviet oil industry and Lukoil chairman passes away

Long-time chairman of Russian oil and gas company Lukoil and “founding father” of the Soviet oil industry has passed away following a long illness.

Valery Grayfer; Source: Lukoil
Valery Grayfer; Source: Lukoil
Valery Grayfer; Source: Lukoil

Lukoil said on Friday that its chairman Valery Grayfer passed away following a long illness at the age of 90.

The company added that Grayfer played a key role in the development of the West Siberian oil and gas basin that, under his guidance, became one of the largest oil regions in the world with production level higher than that of Saudi Arabia.

In modern Russia, Grayfer founded Ritek and later became the head of Lukoil’s research and development branch. His experience assisted Lukoil in executing projects in the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea, Republic of Komi, and other regions.

During his lifetime, he was decorated with seven orders, four medals, the Diploma of Merit of the Supreme Council of the Tatar ASSR, and the Diploma of Merit of the Russian President.

Grayfer was also a laureate of the Lenin Prize and the Russian Federation Government Award. While he was still alive, a large Lukoil oil field in the Caspian Sea was named after him.

In 1985 he became the deputy minister of the oil industry of the Soviet Union and from 1992 until January 2010 was the general director of Ritek. From that position, he transitioned to the role of Ritek’s chairman. During that time, he also became the chairman of Lukoil, a position he held since 2000. ​

Lukoil president and CEO Vagit Alekperov said: “For our generation, for those people who worked under Valery Grayfer’s leadership he had always been an embodiment of optimism, of hope for the best, and the highest professional and personal qualities.

In the 1990s, when no one even mentioned ‘innovations’, Valery Grayfer thought decades ahead and founded Ritek – Russian innovative fuel and energy company.

We have always listened to his opinion as the chairman of Lukoil’s board of directors. It is an irreparable loss for our company and the entire industry. Today is a sorrowful day for us all“.