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The Growth of Facilities Engineering

pic of JPT EditorThe technical challenges of upstream projects have sharply escalated over the past decade. From ultradeepwater to unconventional resource development to harsh environments to water handling, producing oil and gas is becoming more complex and more difficult.

An offshoot of this growing complexity is the rising importance of facilities engineers. SPE recognized this trend several years ago when it created the Projects, Facilities, and Construction (PFC) technical discipline to accompany other, perhaps more traditional, association disciplines such as drilling and reservoir description and dynamics. The creation of the PFC technical discipline was followed by expanded SPE programs and services for this sector and now a new publication designed to appeal and foster communication among the professionals of this increasingly important group. Oil and Gas Facilities magazine debuts this month and joins the list of SPE magazines and technical journals highlighting the most significant trends, developments, and technologies in the upstream oil and gas industry.

Oil and Gas Facilities will include both in-depth staff-written articles and, unlike other non-SPE publications that might appeal to some segments of the PFC sector, peer-reviewed technical papers featuring clearly vetted case studies and assessments of technology applications. In addition, the magazine will feature columns from leading experts in the discipline, coverage of PFC workshops around the globe, and highlights of new technology. The editorial board, chaired by Ian Ball of INTECSEA UK, includes top leaders of the PFC sector. The magazine will be published every other month.

As John Walsh, SPE’s technical director of Projects, Facilities, and Construction explains, “Several years ago, developments such as major offshore projects, deep water, and subsea tie-backs provided the justification for the PFC discipline within SPE. Today, new developments have dramatically increased the demands of our discipline—intense IOR/EOR activity, ultradeepwater, subsea processing, unconventional gas, stranded gas, floating LNG, sour hydrocarbons, remote locations, harsh environments, water handling issues, etc. SPE, with guidance from industry leaders, is responding to this greater need for technical information and knowledge sharing in our discipline.”

Facilities engineers have certainly grown in stature over the past decade, in part because of the huge sums of money now spent on upstream oil and gas projects. They now have a greater say in how projects are designed and how money is spent, and play a critical role in helping meet health, safety, and environmental standards.

Facilities engineering is a broad specialty that encompasses the traditional engineering fields of petroleum, civil, chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering, as well as the expertise of project planning, execution, and management. It includes offshore projects, deep water, subsea systems, platforms and floating systems, flow assurance, measurement and control, and gas storage.

SPE is becoming a natural home for these engineers, and current plans are for more programs and services tailored to this group. Oil and Gas Facilities is just another step in recognizing the key role that this segment has earned in efficiently and safely meeting the world’s energy needs.