First-Ever SPE Student Chapter in Timor-Leste Represents Resilience and Progress

11 May 2023

Students at the National University of Timor-Lorosa'e (UNTL) and Dili Institute of Technology (DIT) have a promising future ahead of them. They are now members of a global community through the establishment of the first SPE student chapter in their country, Timor-Leste. It is also the first of any SPE member group in the country.

Image of Timor-Leste SPE Student Chapter

The student chapter celebrated its recent establishment with a ceremony on 9 May at UNTL. Approximately 500 people were in attendance, including the president of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste H.E. Dr. Jose M. Ramos Horta, Minister for Petroleum and Minerals H.E. Dr. Victor da Conceicao Soares, 2022 SPE President Kamel Ben-Naceur, SPE Asia Pacific Regional Director Neil Kavanagh, and other leaders.

In late 2022, after gaining sponsorship from the SPE Western Australia Section, the students worked collaboratively across the universities to meet the requirements for forming a student chapter. 

“We are appreciative of the SPE Western Australia Section and its chairperson, Steve McBride, who encouraged and supported us to form a student chapter. Our new chapter will help us connect to global industry developments and gain technical knowledge, as well as meet other students and professionals from around the region and world,” said Inersia Crijodia do Carmo Soares, president of the SPE Timor-Leste Student Chapter. “I am pleased to share that over 550 students have already registered as members in Timor-Leste. We look forward to learning from and contributing to the Society.”

Timor-Leste’s economy is mostly dependent on the extraction of oil reserves from the Timor Sea which accounts for 80% of the country’s GDP. Four of the universities in the capital, Dili, have undergraduate degree programs in petroleum engineering, petroleum management, and geological sciences.

One of the country’s well-known mature fields, Bayu-Undan, is planned for conversion for CCUS. Other new developments, such as the Greater Sunrise natural gas field, will provide economic prosperity and much-needed employment for young engineers.

The student chapter plans to leverage SPE’s professional and technical network for these opportunities, including the strides being made by other countries to produce oil and gas in a more sustainable manner.

“The Western Australia Section looks forward to supporting the Timor-Leste students and facilitating career opportunities. This includes quarterly technical meetings in Dili, awarding annual scholarships commencing with 12 in June, and connecting them to the industry in Australia and beyond via the SPE global network. It is a small but valuable contribution that our section can make in helping the wonderful people of Timor-Leste advance and integrate," said Steve McBride, chair of the SPE Western Australia Section.

This ceremony was just the beginning for the Timor-Leste Student Chapter. Plans are already underway to host quarterly talks, create an SPE Technology Day, and participate in future student paper contests.

About SPE Student Chapters 

SPE has recently established 10 new student chapters. Student chapters are located around the world and provide an operating framework for Society activities at a university level. Each SPE chapter is sponsored by an SPE section. Find a student chapter on