Competency Matrices

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) developed a set of competency matrices more than a decade ago to help incoming Petroleum engineers gauge their knowledge and skill sets to be better engineers. The matrices consisted of the following: General Engineering, Drilling Engineering, Formation Evaluation, Production Engineering, and Reservoir Engineering.

Our industry has changed a lot since these were introduced. To address the changes, SPE’s Engineering Professionalism Committee, who shepherds these documents, reviewed, revised, and added to these competency matrices.

The matrices have been significantly amended. There are eight matrices now which is consistent with SPE’s current set of eight technical disciplines. In addition to General Engineering, Drilling Engineering, Production Engineering, and Reservoir Engineering, four were added which are: Completion Engineering; Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability; Project, Facilities and Construction; and Data Science and Engineering Analytics.

The “Minimum Competency Breadth” and “Minimum Competency Depth” column titles remained but the “Above Minimum Competence” column was removed as it was considered unnecessary in light of the core objectives for these matrices. Below are the definitions for each column.

Minimum Competency Breadth - What a recent graduate from a Petroleum Engineering Curriculum should know. Non-petroleum engineering graduates should be competent in these areas to be called a petroleum engineer.

Minimum Competency Depth - What an engineer with five (5) years or more of experience and knowledge should know within their chosen discipline.  At this competency level an engineer should be capable of obtaining the SPE Certification or an equivalent engineering certification in another jurisdiction.

An engineer specializing in one discipline should not be expected to have the same depth of competence outside their discipline. However, it is a good idea for petroleum engineers to understand and learn from the other subdisciplines, especially if the aspiring petroleum engineer wishes to progress within the Petroleum Engineering field. 

The overarching goal of the matrices is to support academia, training programs (internal and external), and define SPE’s Petroleum Engineering Certification knowledge requirements.  The matrices help academia and industry gauge the knowledge of Petroleum Engineers from entry level up to five years’ experience. They serve as the foundation for SPE Certification exam which helps increase the level of professionalism among the SPE membership. 

This revised matrix is meant to be used solely as a guideline and is not meant to be detailed and prescriptive for accreditation standards, hiring Petroleum Engineers, or curricula requirements.  Rather, these were developed by SPE members to assist with the definition of a Petroleum Engineer.