Ireland SPE Members Get Section of Their Own

By Valerie Wilke 9 Sep 2014

Ireland touts an oil and gas industry presence, universities that offer high-level training in geosciences, and major drilling potential right in its own backyard. But until recently, the country didn’t have a local SPE section.

The section's origins go back to Stavanger, during a meeting between SPE North Sea Regional Director Carlos Chalbaud and then-SPE President Egbert Imomoh in August 2013.

“We were talking about the North Sea region and its growth potential,” Chalbaud said. “Egbert asked about the presence of SPE in Ireland. I told him that there wasn’t a section in the country, and that I would investigate the oil and gas activity and members in the country.”

Chalbaud discovered 49 SPE members with Ireland addresses. In addition, his research found that Ireland had significant exploration potential, as well as several oil and gas companies with interests in various parts of the world. It only made sense to him that the country should have its own section.

“Also, with the absence of a local section, the members residing in Ireland were not getting much from their membership,” Chalbaud said.

In October 2013, Chalbaud contacted those members to gauge if there was any interest in creating an Ireland Section. After an email exchange, about a dozen members responded.  

“By March 2014, we arranged an initial meeting in Dublin of interested members,” said Ireland Section Secretary James Robinson. “The output of that meeting was that we were all positively disposed, but would do some further investigation into the potential section membership.”

Many of the members had experience serving in other SPE sections or professional societies, which was of particular importance to Chalbaud.

“The importance of volunteerism is highlighted in the SPE strategic plan, and section volunteerism is particularly important for the presence of SPE any country or region” he said. 

In June 2014, the group reconvened in Dublin at the offices of Providence Resources and came to a conclusion.

“At that meeting we discussed, in depth, the pros and cons of establishing the section,” Robinson said. “And the unanimous verdict was that we should go ahead.”

The volunteers for section officers began to pour in. Robinson volunteered for the secretary position and a group vote by the provisional board determined that Jerry Gilbert was the best candidate for chairperson.

“Within a few weeks, we exceeded the numbers required to form the new section,” Membership Chairperson and founding member Donal Meehan said. “We currently have 30 founding members, and a plan to grow this membership base going forward.”

To commemorate their establishment and to raise awareness of its creation to local SPE members, the Ireland Section will hold an inaugural launch event in January 2015, which will include a visit from 2015 SPE President Helge Haldorsen.

The “SPE Ireland Movement”

In addition to establishing a base of professional members, the Ireland section liaised with University College Dublin (UCD), the largest university in Ireland, which offers engineering and geology undergraduate and post-graduate courses.

“The students and staff at UCD were very keen to become involved with the SPE Ireland movement, and they set about forming a student chapter,” Meehan said.

The UCD chapter has signed up the required 15 initial student chapter members and their application is in the final stages of being approved by SPE.

“In a region which has been a challenge for operators and service companies to recruit engineers, an SPE student chapter could provide a strong link between the oil and gas industry in the North Sea and well-trained engineers from Irish universities,” Chaubald said. 

Looking Ahead

Now that the Ireland section has formed in Dublin, Gilbert said the members hope that they can take advantage of their combined knowledge and put it to work in their own backyard.

“It's taken some 9 years for this new section to move from conception to birth—a long gestation, you might say," Gilbert said. "What we Irish SPE members hope for now is that the gestation period of the Irish offshore oil industry, already almost 40 years long, will soon come to an end and that we may see significant production from our home waters.” 

About SPE Sections

SPE sections are located around the world and provide an operating framework for all major society activities. Sections are semi-autonomous units and self-governing within the framework of SPE policies. SPE sections are organized into geographic regions, and each region has representation on the SPE Board of Directors. A group of 25 or more SPE professional members in good standing in a geographic area not currently served by SPE can request to form a new section.

This year, eight new sections had formed as of 15 August, many of which are in countries not previously represented. These include Serbia, Mozambique, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Israel, and Ukraine. SPE has 198 sections globally. 

Valerie Wilke is a Web Content Associate Editor with SPE.