•lifetime achievement•


Ovalles, Ph.D.

Team Lead, Heavy Oil Characterization Team
Downstream Technology and Service Department
Chevron Energy TechnologyCompany

Ph.D., Chemistry, Texas A&M University
B.Sc., Chemistry, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela

One of the biggest challenges for energy industry companies worldwide is the processing of heavy crude oil that is so viscous that it does not flow easily through the pumping equipment and pipes. 

It is this challenge that Dr. Cesar Ovalles has dedicated his career to solving, initially at Petróleos de Venezuela Sociedad Anónima-Instituo de Tecnolgia Venezolano del Petróleo (PDVSA-INTEVEP) and later at his present employer, the Chevron Energy Technology Company where he is the leader of the Heavy Oil Team in the Petroleum, Material and Characterization Unit and continues to innovate with new technologies for the commercialization of heavy and extra heavy crude oils.

Born in Caracas, Dr. Ovalles earned his B. Sc. in Chemistry at that city’s Universidad Simón Bolívar in 1980 before attending Texas A&M University where he received his Ph.D. and was awarded the E. Martell Award as the best student in Chemistry.

Returning to Venezuela, he joined PDVSA-INTEVEP as a researcher and soon developed a highly selective solid carbon dioxide adsorbent for treatment of natural gas during transport operations. By 1990, Dr. Ovalles was supervising a team of 14 and working on the separation and characterization of natural surfactants from Extra- Heavy Crude Oils. 

It was his pioneering work on developing an economically feasible underground upgrading process for extra-heavy crude oils and a patented, new proprietary process for using microwaves in upgrading the heavy petroleum that cemented his reputation as one of the most innovative scientists in his field.

After leaving PDVSA-INTEVEP in 2003, Dr. Ovalles spent brief stints at Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas and at Morgan Schaffer in Quebec before arriving at Chevron in Richmond, California to take a position as Staff Scientist where he continued to develop new heavy oil characterization techniques and methods of upgrading and transporting heavy and extra heavy crude oils. 

As a prolific researcher and writer of scientific papers, Dr. Ovalles has published 62 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 4 books and has presented 116 papers at scientific and technical conferences. Additionally, he has published 14 articles in Venezuelan journals and 85 Technical Reports for an outstanding amount of 322 total scientific productions. His work has garnered 18 patents, with 16 patent applications pending. In 2014, he was the recipient of the HENAAC Outstanding Technical Achievement Award and the SHPE Hispanics in Technology Award. 

In addition to his research and development work at Chevron, Dr. Ovalles has dedicated significant efforts to teaching the younger generation of chemical scientists. He has been a co-advisor of 22 undergraduate research theses and four Master and Doctorate dissertations and evaluates applicants for the NASA MUST Scholarship for the Hispanic College Fund Selection Committee. He is married to his college sweetheart, Luisa Elena, and is the father of two grown children.