Research and Development Competition

The oil and gas E&P industry faces big challenges to meet the world’s growing energy needs. And we don’t have all the answers. For that reason, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is holding an R&D Competition specifically to encourage researchers from the basic sciences and other engineering disciplines to engage in our challenges.

The competition focuses on these technical grand challenges and hot topics identified by the SPE’s Technical Directors and R&D Technical Section:

The competition is open to academia, research institutes and organizations, companies, and individual investigators. Proposals submitted should include the following requirements:

  • Address one of the grand challenges and hot topics listed above
  • Involve ideas and/or technologies not previously used in petroleum engineering
  • Propose application of technology NOT already used commercially in the oil and gas industry

The top five or six finalists will be invited as guests of SPE to the 2017 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio, 8-11 October 2017, where they will present their proposal in a special session to a panel of industry judges. Awards of USD 30,000 for first place, USD 20,000 for second place, and USD 10,000 for third place will be announced at the President’s Luncheon on the last day of the conference.

The prizes are not intended to fund the research work proposed. It is hoped that successful proposals will form the basis for Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) funded by companies from the oil and gas industry. Many potential funders will be in attendance when the finalists present their proposals. For guidance, proposers should be aware that typical oil and gas industry JIPs will often last from one to three years and often have total budgets in the range USD 100,000 to USD 1 million.

Submissions for the competition will be accepted online February 2017 through 1 June 2017. Early submitters (by 30 April 2017) may have the opportunity to be assigned an industry mentor to provide advice on how to improve the proposal before the final submission deadline.

Proposals will be accepted starting
February 2017.

Proposals will be judged by a panel made up of SPE Technical Directors, members of the SPE R&D Technical Section, and representatives of sponsoring companies. Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • The extent of the use of basic science or technology new to the oil and gas industry
  • The novelty of the science or technology being proposed
  • The probability of success
  • The reasonableness of the timeline and resources required
  • The impact to the oil and gas industry if the project is successful

Proposals will be made available to the judging panel and published on after the competition.

Questions and comments can be sent to