SPE News

Correcting Misinformation About SPE’s Nomination and Board Selection Process

During the petition process, some misconceptions and misrepresentations were discussed on social media and in emails, but SPE Leadership did not believe that we should respond directly until the petition deadline was reached.

SPE logo

Over the past 45 days, SPE has facilitated a petition to add nominees for three open positions on the SPE Board. That petition has reached the threshold of 1% of the membership supporting each candidate, so an election will be held to determine the Board member for those three positions.

Throughout the process of gathering member signatures for those candidates, some misconceptions and misrepresentations were discussed on social media and in emails, but SPE Leadership did not believe that we should respond directly until the petition deadline was reached.

Nomination and Selection Process

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is governed by a 20-member Board of Directors composed of member representatives from around the world. Officers and Directors are elected to a three-year term, with approximately one-third of the Board rolling off each year. Directors include representatives of both geographic and technical constituencies.

The composition of the Nominating Committee, consisting of the Directors in their final year of Board service and three at-large members who are selected by the chair, is prescribed in the Bylaws. The nominating committee is chaired by the immediate Past President, which for the 2022 process was Tom Blasingame. The at-large members of the committee were Janeen Judah, 2017 SPE President; Egbert Imomoh, 2013 SPE President; and Olivier Houze’, former Technical Director for Reservoir.

I believe that the current SPE process for selecting Board nominees results in a highly diverse and representative Board. The current process starts with nomination of qualified candidates by members. Then throughout the review process, which involves a group of non-Board members advising each outgoing Director, factors such as geography, gender, and company diversity are taken into consideration. While the committee is limited by who was nominated from the membership, they make every effort to ensure a global, diverse, representative Board.

Janeen Judah, 2017 SPE President

The nominating process starts with opportunities for nominations by all SPE members and ends with Board ratification of the nominees. The steps are:

  • Any qualified professional member may be nominated for open positions on the SPE Board of Directors.  Members are notified of the opportunity to nominate their SPE colleagues for Board positions through direct emails, the SPE.org website, and social media.  These communications provide information on the open positions and the process for submitting a nomination.  The only special requirement in the current nominating process is that nominees for the role of President must have prior service on the SPE Board of Directors and are not current Board members.
  • Each outgoing Director, in consultation with an advisory group of members that they convene, reviews the candidates who have been submitted for his or her position and provides two to three recommendations to the Nominating Committee (the short list).
  • Once the short list of candidates is developed, the Nominating Committee convenes.  The recommended nominees are presented, and a voting process is conducted to select the final candidate for each position. In addition to focusing on those candidates with the best technical qualifications and/or SPE service experience relevant to the specific position, the Nominating Committee considers such factors as geographic, gender, and organizational diversity.
  • The recommended candidate for each position is presented to the SPE Board of Directors who must approve the candidates.
  • The Board-approved slate of candidates are published in JPT.  This year, the slate of nominated directors was published in JPT online on June 17.
  • In addition to the candidates recommended by the Nominating Committee, the SPE Bylaws allow for any SPE member to "petition" to nominate an SPE member for an open position on the SPE Board of Directors.  If a petition receives signatures from 1% of the membership, an election will be held for those positions.
  • In the absence of a successful petition, the Board-approved candidates are decreed as elected to the role for which they were nominated.

This nomination and election process has been in the Bylaws since we became the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME in March 1957. In our 65-year history, only one time before this year – in 1995 – was a petition from the membership received.

As Nominating Committee chair, it is my responsibility to monitor and address matters related to the nomination process. It is important to me that the SPE membership know that the Nominating Committee members and I take our responsibility very seriously. Everyone on the Nominating Committee participated fully and gave due consideration to each candidate for every position. I can confirm that there was an unbiased, professional, and fair assessment of all nominees, and that the actions of the Nominating Committee and the SPE Board of Directors have been performed with the highest level of integrity.

If you have any questions about the nomination or petition process, you are welcome to contact me directly.

Tom Blasingame, 2021 SPE President

When a group petition for additional candidates was received this year, we made every effort to facilitate the collection of signatures in a way that reflects the current digital world (rather than using a more cumbersome ID certification process that was required in 1995). We established a secure petition site that required login as a way of validating membership, and enabled members to endorse the petition of each candidate individually. It is important to note that at this stage these were not “votes” as characterized on social media, but endorsement of the idea that this candidate was qualified for the role and should be part of an election. All members were notified of the petition by email on July 6th, with a notice posted on JPT and on SPE.org. A reminder email was sent to all members on July 19th. The closure date for the petition was set for August 1, 45 days after publication of the nominees in JPT. This timing provides time to hold an election before the new Board members are scheduled to take office at ATCE 2022.

Since joining SPE in the early 70s I have had the opportunity to serve at various levels:as a founding member and official of the Lagos section; as the first regional director for Africa; as the 2013 SPE President; and currently as president of the SPE Foundation Board of Trustees.

I have served on various occasions on several nomination committees, and I have been impressed by the quality, diversity, and commitment of potential directors. I have been equally impressed with the rigour and dedication with which the nominations committees I have served on have examined each nomination and recommended the best candidates for the good and growth of SPE.

Egbert U Imomoh, 2013 SPE President

During the campaign to collect signatures for the petition, a common theme on social media (by people other than the petitioners) was that signing the petition would make SPE “more democratic” and ensure that the Board of Directors is elected by a vote of the membership. Neither of those statements is accurate. Signing the petition created an election for these three positions on this single occasion. As noted above, SPE had a similar petition in 1995. Enabling petitions and votes in specific instances is part of our Board selection process. SPE’s process for the selection of the Board has worked effectively for the society for 65 years, enabling Board diversity as our membership has changed, and nothing about this election changes that process.

It is appropriate to note that the three petitioners were considered as part of the Nominating Committee process. The Nominating Committee carefully weighs the demographic and geographic make-up of the Board to provide the best representation of our membership from the candidates who are nominated.

A misconception promoted during the petition process was that Board members are the only ones involved in the selection of new Board members. As the description of the process above illustrates, nominations begin with the members, not the Board, and throughout the process, there is involvement from additional members in reviewing the initial nominations as well as at-large membership on the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee is committed to adding Board members who reflect the membership’s diversity, and have shown their interest in, and dedication to, the society through their service to SPE.

As 2022 SPE President, I have complete trust in the 2022 Nominating Committee, which has done an outstanding job in selecting candidates for Board positions and screening them to propose them for Board decision. It is my responsibility to ensure that that there is fair voting process, and that our SPE members throughout the voting campaign(s) adhere to the principles of professionalism and ethics. The merits of the candidates should be the sole basis of any support going through SPE’s social media. No personal attacks against other candidates, SPE leadership, SPE staff, or any other member are, in my view, in-line with SPE’s values.

Kamel Ben- Naceur, 2022 SPE President