A Brief History of SPE

In 1957, the organization was officially founded as SPE, a constituent society of AIME. SPE became a separately incorporated organization in 1985.

Our history begins within the American Institute of Mining Engineers (AIME). AIME was founded in 1871 in Pennsylvania, USA, to advance the production of metals, minerals, and energy resources through the application of engineering. In 1913, a standing committee on oil and gas was created within AIME and proved to be the genesis of SPE. The Oil and Gas Committee of AIME soon evolved into the Petroleum Division of AIME as membership grew and as interest among the members was more clearly delineated among the mining, metallurgical, and petroleum specializations. View AIME article.

1950s
The petroleum membership of AIME grew significantly, leading to restructuring decisions that would shape the future of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

1960s
The new society developed products and services to address the technical interests of its growing membership.

1970s
Membership grew rapidly, doubling by the end of the decade. The first Long Range Plan was implemented, and helped the Society map out its future for the decade to come.

1980s
The industry suffered a downturn and roughly half of all jobs were lost. However, SPE membership remained stable, even experiencing growth, throughout the decade. 

1990s
SPE became more culturally diverse as the growth rate of international sections increased. SPE also became more technologically far-reaching with the introduction of international Forums and the launch of SPE.org. 

2000s
SPE reached its highest number of members in its history, partly due to the high growth rate in the number of student members and chapters. Today SPE continues its constant search for new ways to meet member needs in all phases of their careers in all parts of the world.

Major Events and Membership Growth

2014

Membership tops 124,000+

2013

SPE adopts new strategic plan

2013

PetroWiki is launched with the full contents of the Petroleum Engineering Handbook in a wiki for members to update

2013

Membership tops 110,000+

2011

Membership tops 97,100+

2010

Membership tops 92,000+

2009

SPE completes merger with Petroleum Society of Canada, with combined membership of 4,500 in Canada

2009

OTC celebrates 40th anniversary

2008

SPE adopts Strategic Plan

2008

Membership tops 88,000+

2007

OnePetro , a multi-society library, is launched with support from SPE's Foundation.

2006

Membership hits all-time high at 73,235

2006

The number of papers downloaded from eLibrary since 2001 totals nearly 4 million.

2006

The online Bookstore is updated, offering more titles and new search features.

2006

A new online-only journal, SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction, is started.

2006

Online eJournals are launched, offering members substantial cost and time savings over the printed and mailed copies.

2006

LookUpstream is launched, providing a joint search of the SPE, AAPG and SEG digital libraries.

2006

The first issue of The Way Ahead, a journal for Young Professionals, is published.

2006

A pilot program to provide a Society-sponsored Petroleum Professional Certification is launched in Abu Dhabi. 

2005

eMentoring is introduced to connect young professionals with fewer than five years in the industry and students with more experienced members.

2005

Major enhancements to eLibrary are launched.

2004

The society adopted a business structure centered around the establishment of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Stichting, a not-for-profit headquartered in the Netherlands, to streamline what had become a very complex organization and provide more efficient support to members everywhere.

2004

Women's Network is introduced, offering female members of SPE the opportunity to share experiences and insights on gender-related career issues.

2004

The first Young Professionals Workshop is held in Stresa, Italy. 

2004

Training Marketplace is introduced, providing members a single source to explore training opportunities from multiple providers.

2003

SPE's Dubai office is opened.

2000

Technical Interest Groups, or TIGs, are developed to connect SPE members interested in common technical topics.

2000

A new governing structure consisting of technical directors and disciplines is implemented.

2000

The dues structure is revised to accommodate the make-up of all SPE members.

2000

Membership 51,918

1999

The number of ATWs doubles from 5 in 1996 to 10.

1999

JPT celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1998

OIL (Online Information Library), the precursor to eLibrary, is launched.

1998

DeAnn Craig becomes SPE's first woman president.

1998

The first Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference is held.

1996

Forums are held in South America for the first time.

1996

The first 5 ATWs are held in Europe and the US.

1996

Forums are held in South America for the first time.

1995

SPE.org, hosted by the Texas A&M Petroleum Engineering Department, goes live.

1995

SPE's Kuala Lumpur office is opened.

1994

Forums are held in the Middle East for the first time.

1993

The concept of Applied Technical Workshops (ATWs) is first discussed.

1993

Jacques Bosio becomes SPE's first non-US president.

1992

Forums are held in Asia Pacific for the first time.

1991

SPE's London office is opened.

1990

Membership 51,586

1989

The first Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition is held.

1988

Forums are held in Europe for the first time.

1987

SPE obtains the rights to the Petroleum Production Handbook, originally published in 1962 by McGraw-Hill, and publishes a revision re-titled the Petroleum Engineering Handbook.

1986

Four discipline-specific technical journals are launched – SPE Drilling Engineering, SPE Production Engineering, SPE Formation Evaluation, and SPE Reservoir Engineering.

1985

SPE is incorporated separately from AIME.

1980

Membership 38,799

1979

The first SPE Forum is held at Colorado Mountain College, featuring the topics Properties of Saturated Rocks of Interest to Petrophysicists and Geophysicists and The Physical Control of Solids in Drilling Fluids.

1979

The first Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference is held.

1975

First Long Range Plan

1971

The first Offshore Europe is held in Great Yarmouth, Scotland under the name "Oiltech."

1970

Membership 17,682

1969

The first Offshore Technology Conference is held, underwritten by the SPE Activities Fund. The conference, with 4,200 in attendance, featured 110 technical papers and 368 exhibit booths.

1967

The Monograph series begins with the publication of Pressure Buildup and Flow Tests in Wells by C.S. Matthews and D.G. Russell

1962

Ten technical committees are formed to ensure that a wide variety of technical areas are addressed in technical programs and publications.

1961

The Distinguished Lecturer series begins with three lecturers delivering 28 talks to members in 19 petroleum sections of AIME.

1961

The first issue of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal is published.

1960

Membership 14,806

1958

The SPE Reprint Series begins with the publication of Well Logging.

1957

Membership 12,500

1957    

The Petroleum Branch of AIME becomes a full-fledged professional society - the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME. On October 6, 1957, the first Board of Directors meeting was held in Dallas, Texas, with President John H. Hammond presiding.