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Welcome to New Technical Director: Projects, Facilities, and Construction

Howard DuhonI am very honored to serve as your new Projects, Facilities, and Construction (PF&C) Technical Director. There has never been a more exciting time to be a facilities engineer. Our projects are technically and socially complex and this complexity makes them the most interesting projects on the planet.

When I first joined SPE about 15 years ago, SPE was mainly focused on the reservoir, but that has changed dramatically. Thanks to the efforts of directors who proceeded me in this role (Ken Arnold, Paul Jones, and John Walsh) and those of many other volunteers, SPE now offers a host of services to the men and women who design, construct, and operate facilities.

I have spent the past 23 years in the oil industry (with 15 years in chemical plants before that). Much of my experience is in topsides process design. In recent years I’ve worked mainly in commissioning and initial startup planning. It will be my mission as the PF&C Director to use that background to guide SPE in the development of more services to facilities engineers. I will highlight some of those initiatives in future notes here. But for now, just a few words about what SPE already does for the PF&C community:

  1. Oil and Gas Facilities Magazine. This bi-monthly periodical, started two years ago, includes peer-reviewed articles, feature articles on a variety of topics, regular columns on water management and engineering culture. Expect much more in the way of how-to articles beginning early to mid-2014.
  2. Three Technical Sections on Separations Technology, Water Management, and Flow assurance (effective Jan 2014).
  3. A variety of workshops on topics such as Final Commissioning and Initial Startup, Water Management, Chemical Systems, and Flow Assurance.
  4. SPE recently rolled out Petrowiki. It contains the entire seven-volume Petroleum Engineering Handbook series including Volume III: Facilities and Construction Engineering.
  5. Social media tools to connect with other professions including the SPE LinkedIn site and SPE Connect.

We have come a long way and there is still a long way to travel.

  • Our projects are complex and we sometimes fail (on cost, schedule, and performance). We must do better.
  • I don’t think that we are training the next generation as well as my generation was trained. We must do better.
  • We have made great strides in personnel safety; perhaps less so in process safety. We must do better.
  • The local communities in which we install facilities frequently resist these developments. We must do a better job of engaging with local communities.

I look forward to serving as PF&C Director for the next three years and look forward to hearing your ideas on how SPE can better serve our community.

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