SPE President’s Open Letter to Members

November 2021

Dear SPE Members,

Currently, there are comments circulating on social media concerning SPE costs, value, and integrity. I would like to address these questions and shed some light on how SPE operates and offers the best for its members. I would like to start with clarifying SPE’s organizational structure and decision-making processes.

SPE Governance
The SPE Board of Directors is the governing and policy-making body of SPE. The 20 members of the Board care deeply about SPE and its members and volunteer their time to make it a society based on ethics and integrity. Board members serve for terms of three years and represent all of the regions of the world where SPE has members as well as technical disciplines.  Board members receive no pay for their service and in many cases the cost of attending SPE functions is paid as a generous contribution by their employers.  The Board sets SPE’s strategic direction, oversees the finances and retains final authority on all SPE matters.  SPE’s CEO answers directly to the Board and is responsible for the management of about 250 SPE staff in seven offices around the world. The SPE Board and staff are devoted to fulfilling SPE’s mission and meeting the needs of our members.

Availability of Technical Papers
Our conferences benefit not only the attendees, but also others who are able to access the technical papers provided in the OnePetro® online library.  All SPE members receive six free paper downloads each year and can purchase additional papers at US $5 per paper.  Non-member paper costs are US $25 each. Papers are also accessible to companies and universities through reasonable subscription prices. The fees charged for technical papers in OnePetro are essential to cover the costs associated with the online library as well as to support other SPE programs. 

Value of Membership 
Our membership dues are among the lowest for professional societies serving our industry. To account for global income disparities, membership fees are determined using the World Bank classification of country income levels. SPE dues have not changed significantly over the past 20 years, but the member benefits have grown every year. For students around the globe we offer free membership with access to many programs that aide in bridging the gap from student to employee. Being an SPE member has benefits even for those members who are unemployed.  Since 2015, SPE has offered the Members in Transition program that helps members navigate troubled times through topical discussions and a job board. 

Cost Effective Events
The cost of SPE’s conferences and other events are partially covered by registration fees, which are typically less expensive than those for commercial organizations producing oil and gas related events. SPE also relies on sponsorships from industry partners to present the most relevant and educational events in the industry. Our SPE members take pride in offering conferences that fulfill our mission and exceed the quality of our commercial competitors.  Our authors appreciate the opportunity to present their work knowing that their papers will reach a much broader audience through OnePetro. During the pandemic, the Board and staff worked hard to ensure that quality conferences and other programming (e.g., webinars and workshops) were provided either in a hybrid or fully virtual mode to fulfill our mission during a very difficult time.

SPE Staff
Managing SPE programs and serving our members requires a dedicated professional staff, and it is worth noting that many of our staff are recognized leaders in the association management profession. We have sound compensation policies in place that are benchmarked appropriately on a regular basis and senior executive salaries are set by the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors.  Most of the salaries reported on social media are from US Internal Revenue Service filings that SPE is required to make every year, but some are incorrect and appear to have been inflated by the author of the posts. SPE is a not-for-profit organization in the United States (a 501(c)(3) corporation) and the Board of Directors as well as the Executive Staff are committed to transparency in both our operations and our finances.  

The Board of Directors and I state in the strongest possible terms our support for SPE, its staff, and its policies. We are proud to be a globally recognized and respected society that is open and transparent, and we hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethics and process.  We are here to serve.  If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of the organization, please contact me at president@spe.org

Kamel Ben Naceur, 2022 SPE President