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President’s Column

State of the Society

Jeff Spath, 2014 SPE President

Jeff SpathThis is my final column and I will use it to update you on the state of the society in the context of my goals for the year and the status of the strategic initiatives adopted last year by the SPE Board of Directors.

Let me begin by stressing that by all objective measures, SPE continues to be a highly successful organization with impressive growth rates in its annual membership, professional section, and student chapters; a significant increase in the number and quality of member-requested meetings; and a strong financial position. In addition, over the past year, SPE has added several valuable programs and services, expanded the reach of its programs geographically and topically, strengthened our offices around the world, and collaborated with an increasing number of other organizations to create greater value for our members and the industry as a whole.

Strategy Implementation

With respect to the new strategy that I was charged with implementing, I am pleased to say that much progress has been made in each of the four initiatives. The priority of competency development happened to coincide with a personal goal of mine to address the industry challenges and the SPE opportunities around management of the “big crew change.” For example, accelerating competency development and reducing the time to autonomous decision making form a large part of the crew-change solution and offer a huge opportunity to strengthen and grow SPE training. In the last year, SPE has provided 188 training courses to 3,491 attendees vs. 115 courses to 2,377 attendees in 2012, an increase of 47% and 63%, respectively. With the rollout of the free SPE Competency Assessment program at the upcoming Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) in Amsterdam, I expect the training metrics to continue to grow significantly.

Increasing the petroleum engineering faculty numbers and supporting faculty development and retention is another necessary tactic in addressing the issue of today’s industry demographics. In this area, we have added a permanent faculty position to the Board of Directors in order to understand and solve academic issues pertaining to industry needs and demands. Last year, we also reintroduced the Petroleum Engineering Education Colloquium, which successfully brought together industry and academic leaders to discuss and resolve issues on educating the next generation of graduates. I would like to thank Cindy Reese, Technical Director for Management and Information, for enhancing the dialogue and increasing our focus on faculty attraction and retention.

Another strategic priority in which we have similarly made enormous progress is knowledge transfer. With the rapid growth in SPE meetings, the board committee responsible for training, programs, and meetings, led by Shauna Noonan, Technical Director for Production and Operations, has made many essential, practical improvements for enhancing technical quality, taking full advantage of communications technologies, identifying and closing domain gaps, and addressing language issues. The enhancements made to our online library and social media methods of knowledge sharing have been met with enormous support and usage and are described in my November 2013 column.

On the subject of promoting social responsibility, another strategic initiative, we have successfully developed an industry definition of sustainability over the course of the year. The definition and details will be highlighted in the October JPT issue. What is most important is that one industry definition now brings clarity to the broader membership on our direction, all with a view to accelerating the integration of sustainability techniques into our business and into our operational decisions. As you might imagine, an agreement on the definition among the 27 SPE board members was not easy and I want to thank Roland Moreau, Technical Director for Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility, for his patience and hard work in getting the task finalized. We will be introducing the importance of sustainability and its effect on people, profit, and the planet with the first environmental sustainability panel to be held at the ATCE.

Globalization

One of my personal objectives as SPE president has been to further globalize our society. There is no doubt that we have made huge progress in growing internationally over the past few decades. Today, more than half of our members reside outside of North America and we are once again going abroad with the ATCE this year in Amsterdam.

There are still many regions though, with emerging oil and gas industries still in need of SPE’s presence for reasons of technology dissemination, knowledge sharing, training, conferences, and workshops. So I am proud to say that during the past year, we have added SPE sections in Kavala, Greece; Kirkuk, Iraq; Astana, Kazakhstan; Yangon, Myanmar; Perm, Russia; Grande Prairie, Canada; Novi Sad, Serbia; Tel Aviv, Israel; Maputo, Mozambique; Nairobi, Kenya; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

In addition, we have added 36 universities and institutes around the world to our rapidly growing list of student chapters. The continued growth of SPE in remote, emerging E&P regions provides programs and services with the local relevance necessary to achieve success, both personally for the new members and for the industry.

Summary

I would like to close this update and my series of columns with a message to the young people in our industry and to the students whom we hope will one day join us. Ours is a rewarding profession that contributes to the welfare of everyone everywhere. Our profession allows us to work with the most exciting, advanced technologies on the planet, to work with diverse sciences and diverse cultures, and to provide energy on demand to an increasingly energy-demanding world. The outlook for our industry is especially bright for the young professionals and the students looking forward to graduation.

I have worked in this industry for 31 years and I cannot think of a more exciting and challenging period, whether it is the coming globalization of the US unconventional phenomenon, the exploration and development of reservoirs beneath 10,000 ft of water, drilling and completing wells with miles of lateral reach, or designing floating liquid natural gas facilities.

The opportunities and challenges are endless and I suspect that our industry will be thriving for at least a few more generations. The world’s oil and gas sector will need to drill more than 670,000 wells from 2014 to 2020 just to meet forecasts of energy demand. Furthermore, as the “easy oil and gas” is already recovered, never has the need for bright, resourceful petroleum engineers been greater. And SPE will be there to help you.