Canada Regional Award Recipients

SPE awards recognize members for their technical contributions, professional excellence, career achievement, service to colleagues, industry leadership and public service. This year the Canada Region recognizes 14 well-deserving members who have contributed exceptional service and leadership within SPE, as well as making significant professional contributions within their technical disciplines. 

Regional Service Award

The SPE Regional Service Awards acknowledges exceptional contributions to SPE at the section or regional level and recognizes singular devotion of time and effort to the programs and development of the member’s section.

Blair Fisher, Sanjel Energy Services Ltd.

Daniel “Blair” Fisher is currently the Manager of Field Engineering at Sanjel Energy Services Inc. He is proudly one of the founding employees from May 2016. His career has spanned 17 years and taken him through various roles in the oilfield services sector, starting with field engineering in multiple service lines and now into engineering management.  His current role consists of mentoring and supporting the growth of newly graduated engineers as they expand their roles at Sanjel. Blair was the founding Chairman of the Grande Prairie SPE Section in 2014 and now holds the title of Membership Chair. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in materials engineering, which has helped foster his curiosity into erosion, fracture mechanics, and non-destructive testing.

Edwin Macdonald, St. Brendan’s Exploration

Edwin is currently the General Manager of St. Brendan’s Exploration Limited's Canadian office. Prior to this, Edwin operated his private consulting firm, EMG which has been in operation since 1994. He graduated from Acadia University in Wolfville Nova Scotia with Bachelor of Science Degree in 1987. He holds his Professional Geoscientist Certification in Nova Scotia (APGNS), and is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Edwin has been the Treasurer of the Maritimes Section since 2011 and has sat on the Canadian Board of Directors.

After graduating at Acadia, he devoted six years to field mineral exploration before joining the petroleum industry in 1993. Edwin has broad operations, exploration, and production experience in Canadian and international basins. His early years in the petroleum sector were spent with a private consulting firm, prospecting and mapping conventional fairways for various major operators in the Western Canadian Basin. Edwin served as Vice President of Exploration for Contact Exploration Inc. of Calgary from 2006 until 2010, where his main focus was oil and gas exploration and production in New Brunswick. Prior to that, Edwin worked as an exploration geologist in the Western Canadian Basin for Seneca Energy. Internationally, Edwin served as project geologist for Husky Energy in both the East and South China Seas which included the Liwan discovery by Husky Oil.

Babatunde O Yusuf, Nalcor Energy

Babatunde Yusuf works as a Project Engineer with Nalcor Energy, Oil & Gas Inc. covering facilities, project, and subsea engineering. He spent the last five years with the same company working as a Reservoir Engineer. He is a very active youth leader and committee volunteer with numerous awards and recognitions to his name. He has served in numerous roles within SPE at the sectional, regional, and international levels. Past and current involvements include Student Chapter President, Section Student Liaison, and Section Internet Chairperson for Atlantic Canada (AC); and Section Secretary for YMEC; the Public Service Award Subcommittee, SPE Opinion Panel; Student Paper Contest judge; SPE Cares pioneer committee; Offshore Europe Inspire Programme Committee; and SPE OTC Committee.

He has also mentored eight students from different continents through the SPE eMentor program. He served as a Session Chair during 2015 SPE Deepwater and Harsh Environment Workshop in St. John’s, a committee member of 2017 SPE Production Optimization & Forecasting Workshop in Calgary, and will Chair one of the sessions during the 2017 SPE Well Integrity Life Cycle Management for Subsea Field Developments Workshop in St. John’s. He founded the Young Professionals Committee for AC Section where he served as the pioneer Young Professionals Chair.

Babatunde is currently the Chairperson for the AC Section where he helped increase membership by approximately fifty percent and bolstered member’s engagement in his first year in office. He was a recipient of Regional Young Member Outstanding Service Award in 2015. He earned a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Petroleum Engineering with a First Class Honors from University of Benin, Nigeria, and an Master of Engineering Degree in Oil & Gas Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.  

Claudio Virues, Nexen Energy ULC

Claudio Virues is a Senior Reservoir Engineer at Nexen Energy ULC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC. Previously, he worked for Encana Corporation as reservoir, production, reserves engineer in the tight shallow gas vertical well infill development project in Suffield area, tight gas horizontal well infill development project in the carbonate Jean Marie play and in the appraisal/exploration team for the Duvernay and Montney plays in the Alberta, British Columbia and in the Deep Basin in Canada respectively.

His research interests include flowback and interference analysis, hydraulic fracturing modeling and geomechanics, value integration of geophysics and engineering, rate and pressure transient analysis, production forecast and reserves estimation. He has authored and/or coauthored more than 30 papers in the last four years. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in naval engineering and marine architecture from Buenos Aires Technological University; Master of Science Degree in reservoir engineering from Buenos Aires Institute of Technology from Argentina, South America, and Master of Engineering Degree in chemical and petroleum engineering with honors from University of Calgary, Alberta. Claudio is a member of SPE where he is a Canada region member of events and training committees; a Calgary section past chairman, member of SPEE where he is part of the membership committee; member of CSPG, CSEG, AAPG, CWLS, and SPWLA. He is a recipient of the 2015 SPE Calgary Innovative Section Growth Award and chaired the SPE Calgary Section in 2016/2017 President’s Award for Section Excellence.

Varagur S.V. Rajan, Ph.D, P.Eng., FEC, FGC (Hon.)

Varagur Rajan (Raj) started his career working in the chemical engineering faculties at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. He spent nine years as a research engineer at the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) in Pinawa, Manitoba, prior to working at the Alberta Research Council from 1982 to June 2017. He has devoted a major part of professional life to promoting Alberta’s heavy oil and oil sands production through research and development on various aspects of oil recovery processes (surface extraction & in-situ). He has published many technical papers on various topics and seven patents.
Raj has been a devoted ambassador for the advancement of science, engineering and technology in Alberta and Canada. He is passionate about encouraging Alberta youth to explore careers in science and technology. He dedicates considerable time mentoring prospective science and engineering students & young professionals – as a mentor with APEGA and also with the Society of Petroleum Engineers. His dedication to community service and mentoring earned him the APEGA Summit Award for Community Service in 2008. He gives back to his profession in many other ways. He reviews technical papers either for conference presentations or for publication in journals. He is also very active in APEGA committees and SPE, and has been a member of AIChE since 1969. Since his recent retirement, Raj continues to actively volunteer his service to the engineering profession and his community during the senior years of his life.

In 2009, he was honored with the prestigious title of Fellow of Engineers Canada (FEC) for his valuable service to the Canadian engineering profession. He was bestowed the prestigious designation of Honorary Fellow of Geoscientists Canada in October 2013 in recognition of his contribution to the Geoscience profession in Canada. He received the SPE Outstanding Technical Editor award in recognition of exceptional effort in ensuring technical excellence of SPE literature in 2011 & in 2012. Raj was nominated by APEGA and recognized as a senior 60 years of age or older with the 2012 SAGE award in the Science and Technology category from the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE) for his contributions to the advancement of science and technology in Alberta.

Outstanding Young Professional Award

The Regional Young Member Outstanding Service Award recognizes contributions and leadership to the public, the community, SPE, and the petroleum engineering profession within the region.

Javad Hashemi, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Javad Hashemi is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.), Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP). He has worked as an entrepreneur, researcher, project manager, risk and integrity professional, process safety specialist, and data analyst since 2006 for organizations such as Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and National Iranian Oil Company. He is a co-founder of Abtin Engineering Company and has designed and co-developed RiskMaster® software for Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) planning of piping and pressure equipment and has implemented the RiskMaster® software in multiple plants.

Javad has more than 10 professional certifications in different areas of risk, reliability, and asset integrity management and has obtained his PhD from Memorial University with a focus on dynamic operational risk assessment of offshore operations in harsh environments. He has authored and co-authored two books, four book chapters and 25+ papers primarily in safety, risk, reliability and integrity assessment in international journals and conferences.

Javad has served as Vice President and President of MUN SPE Student Chapter, and now he is the Secretary of SPE Atlantic Canada Section. He coordinated the 2014 and 2016 SPE Canada Region Student Paper Contests and has served as an organizing committee member for 2013, 2014, and 2017 International Workshops on Safety and Integrity Management of Operations in Harsh Environments in St. John’s, NL. He is a recognized volunteer and researcher and has received 13 awards for volunteering, leadership, research, and teaching excellence.
Currently, Javad is a sessional instructor and a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial University’s Center for Risk, Integrity, and Safety Engineering (C-RISE) in St. John’s, working on the project Managing Microbial Corrosion in Canadian Offshore & Onshore Oil Production Operations.

Laura Weeden, Baker Hughes, Drilling Services

Laura Weeden is an Engineer working as an Account Manager at Baker Hughes in Drilling Services, Calgary, Alberta. Laura’s experience revolves around conventional and unconventional oil and gas drilling and optimization with technical knowledge in measurement while drilling, logging while drilling, and rotary steerable applications. She has lead several projects that include services such as reservoir analytics, geo-steering to obtain 100 percent pay well-placements and remote operations involving frac, completions wireline and logistics.

Previously, she worked in the field in pressure pumping as a Cementing Field Engineer in Red Deer, Alberta.

Laura has been volunteering for SPE for four years. First, she served as the Events Lead for the Young Professionals, Calgary Section and now, in her second year as the Chair of the Young Professionals, Calgary Section. She is also a committee member on The Alberta Oilmen’s Outdoor Association, a leader for the Girl Guides of Canada. Laura has an engineering degree from Dalhousie University.

Regional Technical Awards

The SPE Regional Technical Awards acknowledge exceptional contributions to the Society of Petroleum Engineers at the section or regional level and recognize singular devotion of time and effort to the programs and development of technical expertise in eight disciplines.

Completions Optimization and Technology Award
Todd Anthony Zahacy, C-FER Technologies

Todd Zahacy is a Senior Engineering Consultant in the Exploration and Production Division of C‑FER Technologies – an upstream research and development company located in Edmonton, Alberta.

Todd has worked on a broad range of projects including the development and use of simulation software and technologies to better understand and improve the performance and reliability of wellbore systems; conducted technical and economic assessments of novel well completion designs; and taught industry training courses and contributed to peer reviews, technical publications and industry presentations on wellbore construction, completion design, wellbore integrity, fluid flow, heat transfer and artificial lift, and downhole flow control.

He holds Bachelor of Science Degrees in biochemistry and mechanical engineering from the University of Alberta and is an active member of a number of industry professional associations and technical societies, including the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), the Canadian Heavy Oil Association (CHOA) and in support of the Edmonton section, regional and international activities of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE).

Formation Evaluation Award
Richard Chalaturnyk, University of Alberta

Rick is a Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta and holds the Foundation CMG Chair in Reservoir Geomechanics, as well as the AITF Industry Chair in Reservoir Geomechanics for Unconventional Resources. At the University of Alberta, Rick has created the Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group, working primarily in the area of unconventional resource geomechanics, geological storage of CO2 and has established GeoREF – a Geomechanical Reservoir Experimental Facility at the University of Alberta designed specifically for high temperature/high pressure testing and a facility that includes Western Canada’s first geotechnical beam centrifuge and additive manufacturing (3D printing) capacity for producing reservoir rocks.

He was involved in the IEA GHG Weyburn-Midale CO2 Storage and Monitoring Research Project since its inception; is a theme leader in the Canadian Centre for Clean Coal, Carbon and Mineral Processing; a theme lead for the carbon storage theme in the Helmholtz Alberta Initiative; a member of the scientific and engineering research committee for the Aquistore project in Saskatchewan and several other CCS initiatives.

Rick served as Chair of a Canadian Standards Association Technical Committee that developed CSA Z741-12, a standard for the geological storage of CO2.  He was also a member of an expert panel for the Council of Canadian Academies study “Harnessing Science and Technology to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction Assessment.” He is a member of SPE, AAPG, ASCE, CGS, EAGE and APEGA.

Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility Award
Roger Dwyer, NCS Multistage

Roger Dwyer is the Vice President of Health, Safety and Environment for NCS Multistage in Calgary. He has been with NCS four years and held several positions from Director to Executive Vice President.

After many years of working in the oil and gas industry, he decided to pursue a career in Occupational Health, Safety and Environment and graduated from the University of Alberta in 2005.

In 2005, after thirteen years with Jacobs Industrial Services in Fort McMurray, Roger was transferred to their corporate office in Calgary as the HSE Manager for Western Canada. In 2010, he decided to pursue a new challenge and target a smaller organization (Calfrac Well Services Ltd.) to make an immediate impact on their HSE Performance.

In 2003, Roger was awarded the most improved site (Jacobs, Suncor site) for HSE performance in Canada and the Western United States. He was being promoted from a Director to a Vice President to an Executive Vice President within a three-year window.

Production and Operations Award
Silviu Livescu, Baker Hughes

Silviu is the Chief Scientist in Baker Hughes’ global Coiled Tubing Research and Engineering center in Calgary, Alberta, with fundamental and applied research, industrial research and development, innovation, commercialization, and intellectual property experience related to production and operations, completions, and reservoir description and dynamics. He has authored or co-authored 24 US and numerous international patents, granted and pending, and 45 papers and articles. Previously, Silviu was affiliated with ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company in Houston, Texas, and the Energy Resources Engineering Department at Stanford University in California.

He received a PhD from the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, a Master of Science Degree and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Romania, all in mechanical engineering. Silviu is an executive editor for the Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, an associate editor for the SPE Journal, and serves on the SPE Production and Facilities Advisory Committee, the editorial board of the Journal of Petroleum Technology, and the program committees of the SPE Heavy Oil and Unconventional Resources Conferences. Silviu received the SPE Calgary Section Technical Excellence and Achievement award in 2017, the SPE ‘A Peer Apart’ award in 2015, and nine outstanding editor awards.

Management and Information
John Etherington, PRA International Ltd.

John is Managing Director of PRA International Ltd., a Calgary-based consulting firm advising industry on resources assessment and reporting since 2000. He previously spent over 32 years with Mobil Oil including five years in their central resources audit group.

John served on the SPE Oil and Gas Reserves Committee with primary responsibility for drafting the 2007 Petroleum Resources Management System (PRMS). He was an SPE Distinguished lecturer and has conducted training on resources assessment using PRMS and SEC guidelines for over 1600 geoscientists and engineers from 46 countries. John represented the SPE on the technical advisory group to United Nations resources classification committee and is a member of the SPEE Reserves Definitions Committee. He holds a Master of Science Degree in geology from the University of Alberta.

Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award

Ian Gates, Professor, University of Calgary

Ian is Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Associate Dean (Innovation) in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. He is also Implementation Lead for the University of Calgary’s CFREF $75 million unconventional oil and gas program.

He worked for seven years in the industry prior to joining the university and since joining the university, has been a consultant for many small and large energy companies both in Canada and internationally.  His primary research interests are in: thermal and thermal-additive methods (SAGD, CSS, ES-SAGD, and SA-CSS) and optimization of these technologies for in situ heavy oil and bitumen recovery, energetics and efficiency, emissions, and water use; well-wormhole models for cold production with sand and recovery from thin heavy oil reservoirs and post-CHOPS recovery process design; application of smartwell technologies for adaptive production of heavy oil fields; in-reservoir reaction engineering (in situ gasification of oil sands for H2 generation, H2S generation in SAGD and CSS); sound-wave-based methods for heavy oil and oil sands reservoirs; and hydraulic fracturing fundamentals.

Ian holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Calgary, a Master of Science Degree from the University of British Columbia, and a PhD from the University of Minnesota, all in chemical engineering.  He is a registered professional engineer in Alberta.

Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty
Ergun Kuru, University of Alberta

Ergun Kuru is Professor and Director of School of Mining and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Alberta.

For more than 25 years, Ergun has been teaching courses and conducting research on drilling and well completion engineering related subjects. His current research area of interest includes: development of effective hole cleaning strategies for oil and gas well applications; design and development of non-damaging fluids for oil/gas well drilling, completion and stimulation applications; understanding and mitigating leakage pathways in oil and gas well cements.

Ergun served several SPE committees in the past including SPE ATCE Drilling Engineering Program Committee, Editorial Review Board member of SPE Drilling and Completion Journal, Associate Editor of SPE Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology and SPE Continuing Education Committee.

He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Middle East Technical University, a Master of Science Degree and a PhD from Louisiana State University, all in petroleum engineering.