SPE News

Envisioning the Future of SPE

The SPE Strategic Plan has been updated, and the changes to SPE’s bylaws have been finalized.

Presenting recent SPE and industry outlook to colleagues of the Egyptian Section in Cairo.
Presenting recent SPE and industry outlook to colleagues of the Egyptian Section in Cairo.

The main values of SPE are providing our members with the latest advancements in all petroleum engineering technical disciplines and enabling professional development throughout their careers from university until retirement. This is achieved through the programs and services SPE offers to us, members, and evolves with the industry and technology. That necessitates that the SPE Board of Directors update the Society’s Strategic Plan as needed. Recently, updating the Strategic Plan has been done about every 5 years. The last exercise to that effect started in June 2022, and the final version was approved during the most recent Board meeting in January 2023. We engaged a consultant to help guide us through the process, and reached out to members in many ways to gather their feedback on challenges and future directions:

  • One-on-one virtual interviews with members of the SPE Foundation Board of Trustees, members, and chairs of SPE committees, industry members/key sponsors, academia, and SPE section leaders
  • Focus groups with members including past presidents, advisory councils, young professionals, and academicians
  • SPE Connect General Discussion community where questions were posted for member feedback
  • Online survey with mostly open-ended questions that was advertised to all members through JPT, monthly and publication newsletters, and on SPE.org
  • Session at ATCE where attendees could ask questions and make comments

Here are the main results of this work. The entire Strategic Plan can be found here.

The core purpose of SPE is to provide shared expertise, resources, and lifelong learning opportunities to fuel the success of our members and the future of the industry. Our mission is to connect a global community of engineers, scientists, and related energy professionals to exchange knowledge, innovate, and advance their technical and professional competence regarding the exploration, development, and production of oil and gas and related energy resources to achieve a safe, secure, and sustainable energy future.

SPE is committed to these core values:

  • Technical Excellence and Professionalism—committed to innovation, lifelong learning, and the highest standards of professional conduct and expertise
  • Member Focus—consistently provide accessible, relevant resources to help members thrive in the ever-evolving energy industry
  • Global Scale and Local Relevance—leverage insights and resources to better serve members’ needs both globally and locally
  • Collaboration—dedicated to knowledge dissemination and exchange to solve complex problems through internal and external networking and volunteer opportunities
  • Diversity and Inclusion—a community that embraces diversity and inclusion as essential to the success of our industry and society
  • Environmental and Social Stewardship—leadership to achieve a safe, secure, and sustainable energy future

SPE’s vision is to advance the oil- and gas-producing and related energy communities’ ability to meet the world’s energy needs in a safe, secure, and sustainable manner.

The desired future for SPE as it relates to the various stakeholders of our industry may be summarized as follows.

For our Professional Members

  • Professional members rely on SPE as a resource to share technical knowledge and develop their capabilities to meet evolving energy industry needs.
  • Professional members actively contribute to SPE initiatives, recognizing the professional and personal value in volunteering and contributing to the greater good.
  • Professional members contribute and encourage writing technical papers for SPE conferences and to enrich OnePetro in all relevant energy-related activities.
  • SPE professional members mentor early-career professionals and advise student members to help ensure the world’s energy needs are met for future generations.
  • The goal is that our members will engage in a lifetime commitment to share knowledge, technologies, and best practices, while developing their technical and professional skills to meet current and evolving energy needs.

For our Educational Institutions and Educators

  • Educational institutions and educators consider SPE the definitive resource to publish and disseminate their research to the industry.
  • The goal is that our educational institutions will collaborate with SPE to evolve their curricula to meet the needs of students entering the oil and gas, and related energy sectors and the needs of industry to meet the world’s energy needs.

For the Oil- and Gas-Producing and Related Companies

  • Oil- and gas-producing and related companies look to SPE for the dissemination of knowledge, insights, shared expertise, lifelong learning, and support.
  • Oil- and gas-producing and related companies achieve the educational needs of their professional staff through SPE programs and services.
  • SPE provides a platform to help oil- and gas-producing and related companies enhance productivity, inspire innovative thinking, and improve the recovery of oil and gas resources.
  • The goal is that oil- and gas-producing and related companies will rely on SPE programs and services for the technical and professional development of their staff.
Talking with leaders of SPE North America student chapters in Denver.
Talking with leaders of SPE North America student chapters in Denver.

For our Sponsors, Exhibitors, and Advertisers

  • Sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers have a strong relationship with SPE and its members, providing an excellent return on their investment with SPE.
  • They engage with members at multiple levels via platforms to demonstrate their services and provide knowledge and professional development opportunities.
  • SPE’s dynamic relationship with sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers enables them to connect to customers, forge relationships, and sell products and services.
  • The goal is that SPE will deliver value and recognition through access to markets and people who can contribute to the business needs of the sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers.

For the External Stakeholders

  • SPE provides resources to demonstrate the benefits of oil and gas in daily life in order to enable members to communicate the positive value to stakeholders and the public.
  • SPE is a technical resource for and engages with external stakeholders including governments and regulators to educate them about the industry.
  • SPE educates teachers and students about the value of the oil and gas industry.
  • SPE is viewed as an apolitical resource for industry information and expertise.
  • The goal is that SPE will engage with external stakeholders as a leading resource for industry information and technical expertise to create a safe, secure, and sustainable energy future.
Meeting with leaders of SPE Middle East and North Africa Region in Abu Dhabi.
Meeting with leaders of SPE Middle East and North Africa Region in Abu Dhabi.

The Board of Directors also updated the bylaws that govern the selection of Board members. SPE’s bylaws regarding this process were originally drafted in 1957 as SPE was preparing to become an independent constituent society of AIME. The process to petition for member elections for Board positions had not been modified since that time. As such, they never accounted for electronic communications and the changes in our global membership that are the current reality. It still assumed manual signatures needed to be collected and verified and hardcopy ballots needed to be completed and mailed in. For the member petition and election that took place last year, SPE adapted the process to the extent feasible to reflect the realities of our current membership and communications. Updating the bylaws to reflect the differences from 1957 was identified as a necessary change. Several policies that were already being followed by the Nominating Committee also needed to be codified.

On 22 October 2022, the Board published its proposal for modifications to the bylaws on the JPT website and solicited member feedback. Newsletters and other communications were used to make members aware of the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Comments were received from more than 30 members, as well as feedback from the advisory committees to the Technical and Regional Directors. The Board carefully considered all comments and made several improvements based on this feedback. The changes to the bylaws are discussed in this JPT article, and the full text of the bylaws is available on SPE.org. The Board approved these changes with one abstention during its January meeting.

The bylaws changes all apply to Article XII–Elections. They affect provisions that have been used only twice in SPE’s 65-year history, once in 1995 and again in 2022. One adjustment was to differentiate the requirements based on the Board position—President-Elect, Regional Director, or Technical Director.

For the President-Elect, the only significant changes for petitions for this position are the addition of the requirements that candidates must have prior service on the Board of Directors and must have a service break of at least 1 year between a candidate’s end of service on the Board of Directors and the new term for which they would be nominated to serve as President-Elect. This was already part of the Nominating Policy beginning in 2020 but had not been codified in the bylaws. The minimum requirement for a successful petition remains at 1% of eligible members globally.

For the Regional Directors, future petitions will be focused on gaining endorsements from members within the region to be represented rather than from members worldwide as in the past. The actual number of endorsements required will be reduced from the original process, with petitions requiring endorsements from at least 2% of SPE’s professional members within the region (or sub-region), but no fewer than 150 members. Petition candidates must meet the position requirements, including that Regional Directors must have experience as a Section officer and reside in the region (or sub-region) for which they are petitioning. For Regional Director positions from large regions represented by multiple Directors, the Board of Directors may designate Regional Director positions by sub-regions. This is currently the case for North America.

For the Technical Directors, future petitions will be focused on gaining endorsements from members within the technical discipline. Additional nominations may be made by petition from at least 2% of SPE’s professional members within that technical discipline (primary and secondary designations), but no fewer than 150 members. As above, the total number of endorsements needed is lower than under the current bylaws. Petition candidates must meet the position requirements, including that Technical Directors should be a recognized subject matter expert by experience and/or education for their technical discipline, be an active member of that technical community, and have selected that technical discipline as their primary or secondary discipline.

The rationale for 2% of the constituency to be represented or a minimum of 150 members reflects the varying size of regions and disciplines within SPE. The most recent petitions required 660 member endorsements, so the provisions of the amended bylaws will require significantly fewer members to support the petition than in the past.

These changes ensure that members from a region or discipline have a mechanism to put forth an alternate candidate when they believe it is appropriate to do so. It also allows for electronic processes and for a fair and reasonable election process in such an instance.

Some of the feedback received suggested that the current system for Board nomination/selection should be replaced by an open election each year, while many other comments supported the current process. The Board discussed this option but concluded the current system provides the best opportunity for balanced Board governance allowing for the optimal mix of the many member demographics represented by the Board. It has served the Society well since its inception and therefore remains unchanged.

Around the World

During the month of January, I had the opportunity to attend a successful Reservoir Characterization and Simulation Conference in Abu Dhabi with more than 340 SPE members in attendance. The last time this conference was held in 2019, 270 members registered. The increase in attendance is like what we saw at the SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Conference and Exhibition, which was held in The Woodlands, Texas, where 2,896 attended compared to 2,245 the last time the conference was held. It is a positive sign that our meetings are clearly recovering from the lull of the pandemic that hindered us for the past 3 years.

I was also delighted to participate in two events of the Egyptian Section where I listened to outstanding activities of eight student chapters from Al Azhar University, Alexandria University, the American University in Cairo, the British University in Egypt, Cairo University, Future University of Egypt, Pharos University, and Suez University. Not only are students of these schools working on enhancing the technical and professional competencies of their members, but they are also active in their communities with various educational and charitable programs. I attended the monthly meeting of the Section’s board and learned about numerous activities benefiting the members. I presented a talk about the recent developments in SPE and the industry at the Section’s monthly meeting to an engaging audience.

Early in February, I participated in the North America Student Symposium in Denver, Colorado. Leaders of SPE student chapters from the US and Canada listened to presentations from experienced petroleum engineers working for consulting, independent, service, and major oil companies and asked a lot of questions about the best practices they should pursue during their studies and careers. A keynote presentation by Chris Wright, chairman and chief executive officer of Liberty Energy, gave the students a clear picture of the future need and sources of energy.

Until next month!