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Student & Young Professionals Symposium

For the first time in history, the SPE Americas E&P Health, Safety, Security & Environmental Conference will be coordinating with the Krakow, Poland’s SPE Student Chapter to present a Student & Young Professionals Symposium as part of the 2013 conference’s technical program.

The symposium will include student contest presentations on environmental topics, industry expert presentations on social responsibility, and a debate on new hydrocarbon frontiers.

Student Presentation Overview

The student presentations will focus on a variety of issues concerning environmental performance in petroleum engineering. In particular research and implementation of new technology at various stages of the oil field lifecycle, including changes to operating practices, process modifications, waste management and emission control, and environmental risk assessment.

In recent years, the E&P industry has improved many conventional technologies and practices to remove or mitigate detrimental effects on the environment. These improvements have been introduced throughout the life cycle of oil and gas fields, from exploration, drilling, completion and production, to well abandonment and decommissioning. Although developed for enhancing environmental performance, many of those new technologies are demonstrating improved operational performance over the technologies they replaced.

Demand for unconventional oil and gas is expected to increase and lead to additional improvements in E&P technologies. These, along with additional investments, will help provide significant levels of additional commercial production from oil and gas reserves that previously were considered too costly to produce. However, this unconventional production has brought about new concerns of the environmental impact. Shale developments have become targets for environmental concerns due to hydraulic fracturing and water usage, deep water operations have increased the potential of uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases to marine environments, and heavy oil and arctic activity is viewed as particularly damaging to sensitive environments.

The industry has found ways to reduce its impacts on the ecosystems where we operate by adopting these new technologies, changing operating practices and making process changes. These presentations shall demonstrate student’s understanding of environmental issues, environmental merit of technologies, and the student’s motivation for becoming a young professional sensitive to the environmental impact of E&P activities.

Student Contest Information and Submission Categories

All students’ participation in the conference contributes tremendously to its success. Moreover, active student involvement in the student contest becomes an indicator of excellence of their academic programs in the area of environment and safety.

We invite you to submit an abstract for the student symposium. A student, or groups of students, will act as the lead and presenting speaker and will make a presentation at the event. Faculty members and others may also co-present.

A panel of judges will select the best abstracts. There will be cash prizes of USD 1500, 1000, and 500 for the winners of the first, second, and third place, respectively.

Submitters should keep in mind that travel expenses sponsorship should be secured before deciding to submit an abstract, as well as visa restrictions and requirements. Please contact your local SPE Student Chapter for funding and sponsorship questions.

Submission topics:

  • Environmental concerns with unconventional gas (shale gas, coalbed methane) development
    • Hydraulic fracturing
    • Water availability and wastewater management
    • Access to sites
    • Evolution of regulations
  • CO2 sequestration
  • Waste management
    • Drilling muds disposal – onshore and offshore
  • Subsurface injection of waste
  • Air quality
  • Managing carbon emissions from oil and gas operations
  • Produced water management
  • Decommissioning offshore facilities
  • Site operations to avoid and manage spills
  • Regulatory and permitting challenges
  • Environmental education in PE curriculum
  • Environmental benefits of advanced E&P technology
  • New technologies for hostile and sensitive environments
  • Noise and visual impacts
  • ESHIA programs for oil and gas
    • Biodiversity
    • Ecological services
  • Heavy oil production and pollution problems
  • Wells and installation issues
    • Leaks to the environment
    • Detection and control

Note: These categories are suggestions and not meant to be an all-inclusive list.

Industry Expert Presentations

In our changing world, social responsibility (SR) has become a way to do business. It has nothing to do with philanthropy or public relations, but finding a "win—win" for all stakeholders. It should be a key element of our core business. A strategic plan has to include the capacity to deal with non-technical issues, including SR, by anticipating and planning through all the process and asset lifecycles in a more proactive way. SR should be symbiotic with operations and be part of what a company wants to achieve; it is a transversal discipline that needs to be professionalized. Teams should be multidisciplinary including specialists in capacity building, resolution of conflicts, and human rights.

We believe there is a need to develop a deeper understanding of how SR is integrated into project development and operation processes and identify the benefits it brings to business. Developing effective stakeholder engagement, risk analysis, conflict sensitivity, or partnerships are among the SR issues currently being addressed by our industry.

The Symposium intends to explore some of the key SR challenges facing by the oil and gas industry as well as establish a common understanding and an opportunity to learn of SR.  The Symposium will offer a chance to hear and network with industry experts.


The Symposium will offer an interactive event in the form of a debate on new hydrocarbon frontiers. As energy resources continue to become more and more difficult to develop using traditional methods, constantly rising energy demand will force us to change our point of view. During the last two decades the petroleum industry has witnessed rapid progress in E&P technology, which has slowly allowed us to see reservoirs previously considered uneconomic as a potential major energy source of the new millennium. But, as always, new technology entails new questions, uncertainties, and dangers. Controversies associated with hydrocarbon developments from shale plays, deepwater, or arctic reservoirs will present us with many unknowns.

Three students and three young professionals from the industry will explore the controversial issues surrounding new approaches in the energy industry and try to explain its legitimacy on three topics:

  • Shale/tight hydrocarbons
  • Arctic/gas hydrates
  • Deep water operations

Attendees will also be given an opportunity to participate during a Q&A session.


If your organization is interested in sponsoring the Student & Young Professionals Symposium, please review the sponsorship and advertising contract on the Sponsors & Advertisers page.