Later this month, the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition will be held in the Middle East for the first time. The conference will take place 26–28 September at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The locale not only underscores the region’s undaunted significance in the global oil and gas industry but also SPE’s continued international growth.
SPE has had a presence in the Middle East region for more than 50 years. In 1958, the SPE Board of Directors reorganized its basic organizational structure to take into account SPE’s rapid growth in membership. The board divided the Society into 11 separate regions, including one that encompassed Saudi Arabia. This was shortly before the creation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Saudi Arabia was one of four founding member countries.
In 1961, SPE held its first significant program outside of North America. The first Regional Petroleum Technology Meeting, sponsored by the SPE Saudi Arabia Section, took place in Dhahran, with registration totaling 132 people representing 14 companies. The Saudi section had grown to 150 members in a little over a year since its creation.
Middle East membership growth continued and, in 2003, SPE created its first office in the region in Dubai to serve not only the Middle East but also North Africa. The region’s membership totals more than 13,000 professional members and more than 4,000 students, participating across 17 sections and 34 student chapters.
The Middle East has long been the focal point of the global oil industry and the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy highlights the region’s dominant presence, as well as points out some changes taking place. Middle East energy consumption grew 4.2% in 2015, roughly in line with its 10-year average, and is growing faster than other regions around the world. About half of Middle East energy consumption is now natural gas, surpassing demand for oil. Oil output in the region grew 1.5 million BOPD last year to a record high 30.1 million BOPD, according to the Review, with production growth led by Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
The Middle East holds about 47% of the world’s proven crude reserves, almost 16% of those by Saudi Arabia alone, with Iran and Iraq holding 9.3% and 8.4% of the global total, respectively. The region has approximately 43% of total global gas reserves, with Iran claiming more than 18% and Qatar 13%.
This is the third time SPE has held its premier annual meeting outside the US. The conference took place in Florence, Italy, in 2010, and in Amsterdam in 2014. The meeting is not only an annual gathering for members but a platform for the latest technology trends and breakthroughs as well as a forum for discussing contemporary issues.
This year’s conference is no different, with panel sessions on operating and thriving in difficult times, preparing for a low-carbon era, changes companies are making to survive in a low-price environment, and handling data and analytics. For a complete schedule of technical sessions and events, please go to www.spe.org/atce/2016.
Dubai Hosts Annual Meeting
John Donnelly, JPT Editor
16 August 2016