SPE Honors 2019 International Award Recipients at Annual Meeting

Recipients of SPE’s 2019 International Awards will be recognized on 1 October, during the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Calgary.


Each year during its Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE), SPE honors members whose outstanding contributions to SPE and the petroleum industry merit special distinction. Recipients of the 2019 International Awards will be recognized at the Annual Reception and Awards Banquet held on Tuesday, 1 October, in Calgary.

Honorary Membership

Honorary Membership is the highest honor SPE confers upon an individual. It is limited to 0.1% of SPE’s total membership and is conferred on individuals for outstanding service to SPE and/or in recognition of distinguished scientific or engineering achievement in fields encompassed in SPE’s technical scope.

Maria Angela Capello is an energy leader and author lauded for her expertise in reservoir management, talent development, and diversity and inclusion. She is an executive advisor at Kuwait Oil Company, championing the standardization of reservoir management practices across its directorates and managing key planning strategies for North Kuwait Directorate. Additionally, she has been key in enhancing the direction, coordination, and alignment of talent development initiatives of the company and those related to the empowerment of women across the nine companies of the Kuwait national oil sector.

Capello was the first woman to supervise geophysical field operations in Venezuela, as field engineer, progressing in a variety of roles including project leader, technology manager, and reservoir manager, to become the youngest general manager of an oil asset in PDVSA. She has authored more than 78 articles and webinars, is the lead author of the book, Learned in the Trenches—Insights on Leadership and Resilience, and has a recognized online presence focused on field development, leadership, talent management, and women’s empowerment. She has chaired and served on numerous SPE committees and conferences, and was the recipient of the SPE International Distinguished Service Award in 2017 and the SPE Distinguished Membership Award in 2014. She holds an MS degree from Colorado School of Mines and a degree in physics from Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela.

Anuj Gupta is a senior petroleum engineering consultant at the Aramco Research ­Center–Houston, where he conducts and leads research on simulation modeling workflows for unconventional reservoirs and oversees other research activities related to reservoir engineering for unconventional reservoirs. He has more than 30 years of experience across the United States, Middle East, and India. Prior to joining Aramco in 2013, he served for 21 years as a member of the petroleum engineering faculty at various institutions, including the University of Oklahoma, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Louisiana State University, ADNOC Petroleum Institute, and Texas A&M University. His research has advanced the disciplines of unconventional reservoirs, reservoir characterization, enhanced oil and gas recovery, petrophysics, and drilling.

Gupta is a coauthor of more than 100 technical papers, five patents, and several pending and published patent applications. He is the recipient of the SPE DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal and SPE Distinguished Service Award and is an SPE Distinguished Member. He holds a BEng in mechanical engineering from Delhi College of Engineering at Delhi University, India, and MS and PhDs in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Franklin (Lynn) Orr is the Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor of Petroleum Engineering Emeritus in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University, where he served as chair of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, dean of the School of Earth Sciences, founding director of the Global Climate and Energy Project, and founding director of the Precourt Institute for Energy. He also served as a member of a task force for California’s energy future and as a member of a National Research Council Committee on America’s Energy Future, and cochaired a DOE study of basic research needs in the geosciences. Orr was the Under Secretary for Science and Energy at the US Department of Energy from 2014 to 2017.

Orr was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer and served as a review chairman for SPE Reservoir Engineering. He received the SPE Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty and Cedric Ferguson certificates for papers published with students receiving the Ferguson Medal. He was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering in 2000 and is a member of the ClimateWords Foundation board of directors. Orr holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota and a BS from Stanford University, both in chemical engineering. He received an honorary doctorate in engineering from Heriot-Watt University, the Robert S. Schechter Award from the University of Texas, the Aurel Stodola Medal from Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, and the Izatt Christensen Award from Brigham Young University.

Jeffrey (Jeff) Spath is a professor and ­Stephen A. Holditch ’69 Department Head Chair in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University. Before joining Texas A&M, Spath was chief executive officer of the University of Texas’ Texas Oil and Gas Institute, a research and consulting institute, where he led a team of engineers and geoscientists to increase the production and reserves on the 9,600 oil and gas wells on the state of Texas’ university lands. Before joining the UT System, Spath was a member of the executive management team for Schlumberger. After joining the company in 1984, he held various global positions in reservoir engineering, research, and management, including vice president of industry affairs, president of the reservoir management product group, and president of data and consulting services.

Spath has served as Technical Director for Management & Information on the SPE Board of Directors and was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer on the subject of production enhancement, and served as 2014 SPE President. He has published 26 technical papers and holds 14 patents in oil and gas production. He earned BS and MS degrees in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M and a PhD in reservoir engineering from Mining University of Leoben, Austria.

Ganesh Thakur is director of energy industry partnerships and Distinguished Professor of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Houston. He leads teams of scientists in solving complex problems for the energy industry, and develops research partnerships and promotes synergy in petroleum reservoir management involving conventional and unconventional reservoirs and carbon capture and sequestration. He also advises Geo-Park, a leading independent E&P company in Latin America, and various national oil companies. During a 37-year career with Chevron, Thakur served in various roles including vice president and global advisor and fellow.

Thakur served as SPE President in 2012. He has also been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer and a member of the SPE Editorial Review Committee, and was the first Technical Director of Reservoir Description & Dynamics. He currently is a board member of the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Sciences, and Treasurer of the SPE Foundation. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, has published 70 papers and patents, and is the author of three books. He received the SPE Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award and is an SPE Distinguished Member. Thakur holds a PhD in petroleum and natural gas engineering, an MA in mathematics, and an MS in petroleum and natural gas engineering, all from Pennsylvania State University. He also holds an MBA from Houston Baptist University and received his bachelor’s degree with honors in petroleum engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology–School of Mines. He has received outstanding alumni awards from both Penn State and the Indian Institute of Technology.

Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal

The Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal, established in 1932, recognizes achievement in improving techniques and practices of finding and producing petroleum.

Carlos Torres-Verdín is a professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering of the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Brian James Jennings Memorial Endowed Chair in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, and conducts research on borehole geophysics, formation evaluation, well logging, and integrated reservoir description. He is the founder and director of the Research Consortium on Formation Evaluation at UT, which has been in operation for 19 years. Before entering academia, Torres-Verdín was a research scientist with Schlumberger-Doll Research and a reservoir specialist and technology champion with YPF. Torres-Verdín received the 2008 SPE Formation Evaluation Technical Award and is an SPE Distinguished Member. He has published more than 200 journal papers and 235 conference papers, is the author of five patents, and has served as an editor for SPE Journal. He has received awards and served in editorial positions for SEG, SPWLA, and EAGE. He has supervised 34 PhD and 46 master’s degree students, conducted numerous industry training courses, and chaired, cochaired, or participated in several SPE committees, technical workshops, and conference sessions. He holds a PhD in engineering geoscience from the University of California at Berkeley.

John Franklin Carll Award

The John Franklin Carll Award recognizes contributions of technical application and professionalism in petroleum development and recovery.

George Moridis is a professor of petroleum engineering and holder of the George and Joan Voneiff Professorship in Unconventional Resources at Texas A&M University. He is also a senior scientist/faculty associate at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he headed the Hydrocarbon Resource Program in the laboratory’s Energy Geosciences Division and research programs on unconventional resources, and led the development of the new generation of simulation codes of coupled flow, thermal, geomechanical, and geophysical processes. He is ExxonMobil Visiting Professor Chair in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department of the National University of Singapore, and a visiting professor in the Guangzhou Center for Gas Hydrate Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Moridis has been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer and was named an SPE Distinguished Member.  He is a member of the US Secretary of Energy’s Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee, and the recipient of a 2011 Secretarial Honor Award—the highest non-monetary award conferred by the US Department of Energy—for work on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Flow Rate Technical Group. Moridis holds BS and MEn degrees from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and MS and PhDs from Texas A&M.

DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal

The DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal recognizes distinguished and outstanding service to SPE, to the professions of engineering and/or geology, and to the petroleum industry.


Hemanta Sarma is a professor of oil and gas engineering at the University of Calgary. Formerly, he chaired the Petroleum Engineering Department at the Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, and was the inaugural Reg Sprigg Chair Professor at the Australian School of Petroleum of University of Adelaide. Sarma received an Australian national citation for “initiating students into the profession of petroleum engineering while interacting with them to secure their welfare as individuals and success as scholars.” He has held senior positions in the Alberta Research Council in Canada and Japan National Oil Corporation. He has published extensively in the areas of EOR and reservoir engineering, and offered in-house training and consulting services to petroleum companies in Asia Pacific and Middle East. Sarma has been an SPE member for almost four decades, participating in numerous conferences, serving on technical and program committees, presenting papers, and chairing or cochairing technical sessions. He received the SPE Distinguished Service Award, was named Outstanding Associate Editor for SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering Journal, and is an SPE Distinguished Member. He holds a BTech in petroleum engineering from Indian School of Mines, an MS in chemical engineering from the University of Calgary, and a PhD in petroleum engineering from the University of Alberta.

Lester C. Uren Award

The Lester C. Uren Award recognizes distinguished achievement in petroleum engineering technology by a member who made the contribution before age 45.

Olivier Houzé cofounded KAPPA Engineering, a petroleum engineering software and training and consulting services company, in 1987, and immediately began writing the first versions of Saphir, the industry standard pressure transient analysis software that is used today by major international and national oil companies, independents, and oil and gas service companies. Before starting KAPPA, Houzé spent four years with Flopetrol-Johnston (Schlumberger), primarily as a well test field engineer in the Middle East. He has been KAPPA’s managing director since 1991. Houzé has been actively involved in numerous SPE forums and workshops on well test interpretation and related topics. He was a coauthor of an SPE monograph on pressure transient testing and one on unconventional reserves. He was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2013, and he served on the SPE Board of Directors as the Technical Director for Reservoir Description and Dynamics during 2012–2015. Houzé holds an engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnique and an MS in petroleum engineering from Stanford University.

Robert Earll McConnell Award

The Robert Earll McConnell Award recognizes beneficial service to humanity by engineers through significant contributions that tend to advance a nation’s standard of living or replenish its natural resources base.

Ahmed Abou-Sayed, founder and CEO of Advantek International Corporation and of Informateks International Incorporated Egypt, has developed best practices guidelines and operations assurance for E&P waste management for the oil and gas industry and regulatory bodies around the world. He also developed produced-water-injection guidelines for the OSPAR EEC Convention, the PWRI JIP. Abou-Sayed holds five US patents and has authored more than 100 technical papers and publications. He has served on the SPE Board of Directors as Technical Director for Production and Operations. He has also been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer, was named an SPE Distinguished Member, and is a recipient of the SPE Production Operations Award. He was a United Nations advisor in the Technical Assistance Program for Unconventional Energy Recovery. Abou-Sayed holds a BS in mechanical engineering with highest honors from Cairo University, an advanced diploma in information sciences from Institute du Recherches D’Informatique et D’Automatique, and an MS in applied mechanics and a PhD in engineering mechanics, both from Brown University.

Charles F. Rand Memorial Award

The Charles F. Rand Memorial Award recognizes distinguished achievement in mining administration, including metallurgy and petroleum.

Kamel Ben-Naceur is the CEO of Nomadia Energy Consulting, a company focused on supporting countries in the sustainable development of their energy sectors. He has been the chief economist at ADNOC, and the director of sustainability, technology, and outlooks at the International Energy Agency, and spent more than 33 years with Schlumberger, including in executive positions such as chief economist and technology center president. In 2014, he was appointed Tunisian Minister for Industry, Energy, and Mines, leading key energy reforms that included renewable energy expansion and the reform of energy subsidies. He also was a professor at the Political Sciences University in Paris. Ben-Naceur has actively participated in and chaired SPE conferences and has authored more than 120 articles and 16 books. He served on the SPE Board of Directors as Technical Director for Management and Information. Ben‑Naceur has received several industry awards, including the SPE Distinguished Member and Distinguished Service awards. He holds a master’s degree from the French Ecole Polytechnique and an aggregation of mathematics from the Ecole Normale Superieure.

Public Service Award

The SPE Public Service Award recognizes distinguished public service to a country, state, community, or the public through excellence in leadership, service, or humanitarianism, provided the service is above the requirements of employment.

Pascal Breton is deputy vice president E&P communications with Total and also in charge of internal and external communications for the Total Technological and R&D Nerve Center, located in Pau, France. He joined Elf Aquitaine as a geophysicist and developed expertise in borehole geophysics and seismic characterization. He became head of seismic calibration and characterization after the Elf-Total merger and later moved from technology into human relations. As head of E&P higher education relations, he developed strong collaborations with academics. In 1998, Breton took a sabbatical year to launch ANAK-Tnk, a Manila-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) that supports the Philippines capital city’s most impoverished children. He then created French and international branches of the NGO and still serves as its president. Breton served as vice president of the SPE France Section and has been the recipient of SPE regional awards for voluntary commitment and public service. He holds a master’s degree in Earth sciences and a geophysical engineer degree, both from Strasbourg Institute of Earth Physics.

Distinguished Service Award

The SPE Distinguished Service Award recognizes exceptional devotion of time, effort, thought, and action to the society that sets them apart from other contributions.

Saeed Al-Mubarak has spent his career with Saudi Aramco, where he is the intelligent fields focus area champion and has led important teams, including the strategic team managing the world’s largest intelligent fields. He has also worked in reservoir, production, drilling and completion, facilities, and knowledge management positions. Al-Mubarak is a founder or cofounder of several knowledge-sharing and educational programs, including the SPE Digital Energy Technical Section (DETS) LinkedIn Discussion Group. He is currently chairman of DETS, a member of the Management & Information advisory and Awards advisory committees, a member of the Data Science and Digital Engineering training curriculum, and Texas A&M University SPE Student Chapter industry advisor. Al-Mubarak has been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer and the recipient of the SPE M&I Award and the Saudi section’s Community Service Award. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s in petroleum engineering, both from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

Mohammed Badri is managing director of research and development and technology advisor with Schlumberger, where he has held management and technical positions over the last 28 years. He is the inventor or coinventor of 25 US patents and has presented more than 78 papers in geoscience and petroleum engineering. He has helped organize and chair many conferences, panels, workshops, symposia, and forums, and was reviewer for SPE’s Reservoir Journal. Baldri is an SPE Distinguished Member and received a regional service award. He currently serves on the SPE Distinguished Lecturer selection, Research and Development, and Regional Training committees, and the Middle East Oil Show Executive and Program Committee. He also is a board member of the International Petroleum Technology Conference. Baldri holds a BS in geology from Damascas University, and MS and PhD degrees in geophysics from the University of Minnesota.

David G. Kersey recently retired from Saudi Aramco as senior petroleum engineering consultant in the Upstream Professional Development Center. He previously worked for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Robertson Research, Reservoirs, Inc., Core Laboratories, Schlumberger, and Gulf Indonesia. He has authored or coauthored more than 80 technical papers. Kersey has been chairman of the SPE Java Indonesia and Saudi Arabia sections. He also initiated the formation of a Hawaiian SPE section. He is an SPE Distinguished Member, has been recognized three times as an outstanding technical editor, and received the Asia Pacific and Middle East regional SPE service awards. Kersey holds a bachelor’s degree in geological sciences from the University of Southern California and a graduate degree in geological sciences from Harvard University.

Silviu Livescu is chief scientist in Baker Hughes’ Coiled Tubing Research and Engineering Center in Calgary, conducting research and development, commercialization, and intellectual property work related to production and completion operations. Previously, he was a research engineer with ExxonMobil and a post-doctoral research fellow at Stanford University. He has authored or coauthored more than 30 US patents and patent applications and more than 55 papers and articles, and was involved in the peer review of more than 5,000 technical articles as an executive editor for Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering and an associate editor for SPE Journal, reaching the “A Peer Apart” status and earning 13 Outstanding Editor and Reviewer awards. Livescu was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer and currently serves on the SPE Production and Facilities and M&I advisory committees, the JPT Editorial Committee, the Calgary Section Board of Directors, and various awards and technical conference and workshop committees. Livescu holds BS and MS degrees from Politehnica University of Bucharest and a PhD from the University of Delaware, all in mechanical engineering.

Anthony Kunle Ogunkoya is technical director of Petro Congo SA. He retired in 2010 as general manager of Schlumberger, responsible for Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Ogunkoya joined SPE as a student member in 1978 and was a foundation member and secretary of the Petroleum Training Institute, Warri Student Chapter. He led efforts to rejuvenate the Angola and Congo sections. He is a Century Club and 25-Year Club member and served on the SPE International Membership Standing Committee. Ogunkoya visited all SPE sections in sub-Saharan Africa as Africa regional director and member of the SPE International Board, and was chairperson of the SPE Board Membership Committee. He has served as trustee of the Nigeria Council since 2015. Ogunkoya’s SPE awards include the Africa Regional Service and Recruitment awards and President’s Award for Section Excellence. He led the organization of Africa’s first SPE HSE Conference in Maputo, Mozambique. Ogunkoya holds an MS in offshore engineering from Robert Gordon University and a higher diploma in petroleum technology from the Petroleum Training Institute in Warri.

Michael D. Zuber is a technical specialist in reservoir engineering for Pioneer Natural Resources. Before joining Pioneer, he was a technical advisor for Schlumberger Asia area and director of the Schlumberger Brisbane Technology Integration Centre. Zuber has been actively involved in SPE for more than 30 years. He has authored numerous publications relating to evaluation of unconventional reservoirs. He taught the SPE short course, “Coalbed Methane Engineering Methods,” was an editor of the SPE Reprint on Coalbed Methane, and was a Distinguished Lecturer in 2014–15. He served on the Asia Regional Technical Advisory Committee, the ATCE Reservoir Engineering Committee, the technical committee for the URTCE in Brisbane, and the IPTC Education Week Committee. He was technical program chairman for the SPE Eastern Regional Meeting in 1998. Additionally, he held every section office in the Pittsburgh Section and was chairman of the 2010 SPE Applied Technology Workshop on Coalbed Methane. Zuber holds a BS in petroleum engineering from Marietta College, an MS in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M, and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

Cedric K. Ferguson Medal

The Cedric K. Ferguson Medal is presented to young professional authors of an SPE peer-approved technical paper who are members of SPE and age 35 and under on the date of peer approval. Co­authors age 36 or over who were SPE members on the date of peer approval receive the Cedric K. Ferguson Certificate. The 2019 medals and certificate are awarded for the paper, “Diffusion-­Dominated Proxy Model for Solvent Injection in Ultratight Oil Reservoirs,” published in SPE Journal in 2018.  

Michael Cronin is a PhD candidate in energy and mineral engineering–petroleum and natural gas engineering option–at Pennsylvania State University. He has coauthored four peer-reviewed journal articles and two conference papers. He has volunteered with The Way Ahead since 2016 and will be the 2019–2020 deputy managing editor after previous leadership roles in the Academia and Business Benchmark sections. Cronin earned a master’s degree in geological sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and dual bachelor’s degrees in petroleum and natural gas engineering and geosciences (with honors) from Penn State. Before starting his PhD, he worked as a geologist/reservoir modeler in Anadarko’s reservoir technology group, where he also interned during his graduate studies at UT.

Hamid Emami-Meybodi is an assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Pennsylvania State University. He joined the university’s Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering in 2015 following 10 years in academia as post-doctoral and research assistant at the University of Calgary, University of Regina, Canada, and Petroleum University of Technology in Iran. Emami-Meybodi’s research has centered on the study of fluid flow and transport phenomena in porous media, spanning both applied and fundamental aspects. He has authored and coauthored more than 30 technical publications and one patent. Emami-Meybodi is the faculty advisor for Penn State’s SPE Student Chapter and is also a member of the SPE International Scholarship and Fellowship Selection Committee. He holds BS and MS degrees in chemical and petroleum engineering from Petroleum University of Technology in Iran, and ME, MS, and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering from University of Calgary.

Russell T. Johns is the recipient of the Cedric K. Ferguson Certificate for 2019. Johns is the George E. Trimble Chair of Energy and Mineral Sciences in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, and holds the Energi Simulation Chair in Fluid Behavior and Rock Interactions. He served on the petroleum engineering faculty at the University of Texas at Austin from 1995 to 2010, and was a petrophysical engineer with Shell Oil and a consulting engineer for Colenco Power Consulting. He has authored or coauthored more than 250 publications in enhanced oil recovery, thermodynamics, and phase behavior, unconventional gas engineering, multiphase flow in porous media, and well testing. Johns holds a BS in electrical engineering from Northwestern University and MS and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering and water resources from Stanford University.  

Young Member Outstanding Service Awards

The Young Member Outstanding Service Award recognizes contributions to and leadership in the public and community ­arenas and SPE, the profession, and the industry, by a member under the age of 36.

Patience Abia is a field production superintendent for Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, where she oversees the production of more than 30,000 B/D and supervises the installation of gas-lift compressors and associated piping at Jones Creek field. She began her career with Welltec Oilfield Services as a field engineer. Abia joined SPE as a student member in 2006 and became a full professional member in 2011. She has served on numerous committees and subcommittees, including cochairing the SPENC Young Professional Committee and the Women’s Development Program. While serving as the young professionals chairperson, her chapter was voted best chapter for 3 consecutive years. She is currently the scholarship chairperson of the Port Harcourt Section. Abia holds a bachelor’s degree in applied geophysics from the University of Calabar, Nigeria.

Victor Anochie is a senior engineering technologist in the Department of Petroleum and Gas Engineering of Baze University, Abuja. He spent 5 years with Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti as an engineering technologist. Anochie holds a BEng in petroleum engineering from the University of Benin, Nigeria, and a higher national diploma in chemical engineering from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, Nigeria. He joined SPE in 2006 as an undergraduate at IMT and became chapter president, organizing several innovative programs in IMT and across secondary schools in Enugu, which led to the chapter winning the SPE Gold Standard Chapter Award in 2011. Anochie initiated and coordinated the establishment of the SPE Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti Chapter, where he was faculty advisor. He is a board member of the Abuja Section and has served in various committees in the SPE Nigeria Council. He is part of a team that established an energy club at the Shephard School Abuja to teach primary and secondary school students about clean and sustainable use of energy.

Oluwabiyi “Biyi” Awotiku is a petroleum engineer with Chevron Nigeria Limited. Since joining Chevron in 2011, he has worked in offshore and deepwater assets. He has served at multiple levels within SPE on the Lagos Section board and the SPE Nigerian Annual International Conference and Exhibition committees. As a Lagos section officer, he has served as students affairs and young professionals chair and is currently the membership chair. He has served as cochair of the students programs and now serves as chair, young professionals program and advisor, students program on the Nigerian conference committees. He has been instrumental in conducting the Nigeria Council PetroQuiz competition for the past 5 years and has volunteered for the African regional Petrobowl qualifiers. He has received several professional awards and coauthored four SPE papers. Awotiku has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, and a master’s degree in petroleum engineering from African University of Science and Technology, Abuja. He is currently an executive MBA student at Lagos Business School.

Alejandro Antonio Lerza Durant is a senior reservoir engineer with Chevron, where he began his career as an intern in 2009. He currently focuses on leveraging reservoir simulation techniques, rate transient analysis, and predictive and prescriptive analytics to optimize unconventional developments. Lerza received the SPE Gulf Coast Regional Young Member Outstanding Service Award in 2018; is an active technical committee member for the ATCE, URTeC, and LACPEC conferences; and has served as session chair for multiple SPE technical conferences. He has been a board member of SPE sections in Venezuela and Gulf Coast Section. He also has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, Houston Food Bank, Hurricane Harvey relief, and local science fairs, and is currently an SPE Ambassador Lecturer. He received his BA in petroleum engineering from Universidad Central de ­Venezuela, an MBA in gas business management from Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela, an MS in petroleum engineering from University of Southern California, and an MS in data analytics from Texas A&M, and is currently an executive MBA candidate from IAE Business Schools in Buenos Aires.

Nii Ahele Nunoo is a new technology design engineer at National Oilwell Varco, where he focuses on downhole tool development. He earned his BS in electronic engineering from Minnesota State University and an MBA from Duke University with a concentration in energy finance. Nunoo has served on the SPE Young Professionals board for the past 5 years. In 2018, he chaired a 26-member board that organized technical presentations and community, networking, and social impact events for young oil and gas professionals in the Gulf Coast Section. He also was chair of the Emerging Engineers Symposium, a one-day conference focused on mid-career engineers and professionals in the energy industry. Nunoo regularly presents at Energy4Me events in Houston schools and has served as the career management and continuing education chair on the SPE Gulf Coast Section board. He has coauthored five publications in peer-reviewed journals, spearheaded events that raised more than $60,000 for student scholarships, and participated in Petrobowl, and was one of four founders of the GCS Innovate committee. He has also organized workshops, including the technical writing soft skill workshop for working professionals. Nunoo is currently lead content creator for The Way Ahead and is incoming chair of the YMEC Committee.

Rodrigo Rueda Terrazas is a production metering and reporting engineer at Total E&P Brazil, working on the Lapa field operations/mass balance team. He has more than 7 years of experience in deepwater projects and Brazilian presalt. Rueda Terrazas is currently enrolled in Heriot-Watt University’s petroleum engineering master’s program, and has studied physics at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and engineering/physics at Florida International University. He joined SPE in 2011 as the Universidade Estácio de Sá SPE Student Chapter president and cofounder, later assuming the YP chair of the Brazil Section, while also acting as editor of The Way Ahead. In 2015 he was appointed regional focal point for the South America & Caribbean Region and received the Regional Young Member Outstanding Service Award. In 2017 he was appointed communications chair for the international SPE YMEC, and is now its incoming chair.  

Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty

This award recognizes superior teaching, excellence in research, significant contributions to the petroleum engineering profession, and/or special effectiveness in advising and guiding students.

Roberto Aguilera is professor of petroleum engineering and CNOOC Chair in Tight Oil and Unconventional Gas in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, and a principal of Servipetrol Ltd. He is the creator and principal investigator of the GFREE Research Program, an integrated multidisciplinary team researching geoscience; formation evaluation; reservoir drilling, completion and stimulation; reservoir engineering; and economics and externalities. Aguilera is author of Naturally Fractured Reservoirs, coauthor of three other petroleum engineering books, author and coauthor of more than 200 petroleum engineering papers, and editor-in-chief and coauthor of the new SPE monograph, Unconventional Gas and Tight Oil Exploitation. He is a petroleum engineering graduate from the Uni­versidad de America in Bogota, and holds MEng and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He has lectured, presented his course in naturally fractured reservoirs, and consulted in more than 50 countries throughout the world. He is past executive editor of the Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology and current executive editor of SPE Journal. He is a member of the SPE Legion of Honor, an SPE Lifetime Member, and a former Distinguished Lecturer.

SPE Technical Awards

These awards recognize outstanding achievement or contributions to the advancement of petroleum engineering in ­specific technical disciplines.

Completions Optimization and Technology Award

Jon E. Olson is a professor and chair of the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been a member of the petroleum engineering faculty for 24 years and holds the Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Chair and the Frank W. Jessen Professorship. He is codirector of the Fracture Research and Application Consortium at UT-Austin, an interdisciplinary group of engineers and geologists focusing on oil and gas production from shales and other naturally fractured reservoirs. His group is currently engaged in characterizing and optimizing hydraulic fracture completions through numerical modeling and laboratory experiments. He also works on induced seismicity and naturally fractured reservoir problems. Olson has been a local SPE section and student chapter leader and has served on organizing committees for workshops on hydraulic fracturing and workforce training. He is an SPE Distinguished Member and past Distinguished Lecturer.  He has published over 100 scholarly papers. He holds BS degrees in both civil engineering and Earth sciences from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in applied Earth sciences from Stanford University.

Drilling Engineering Award

Steve Sawaryn is an independent drilling-engineering consultant specializing in drilling systems. He retired from BP in 2015 as a senior drilling advisor. During his 36 years’ service, he held a variety of posts in drilling operations, consultancy, technology, and projects in Aberdeen, London, Kuwait, Alaska, and Norway. Sawaryn has served on a number of SPE drilling and digital energy committees and cochaired the 2004 SPE Smart Drilling Forum, which addressed the potential application of nanotechnology in drilling. He chaired the Hits and Misses Applied Technical Workshop in 2014 on behalf of the SPE Wellbore Positioning Technical Section (WPTS) and currently serves as the chair for the WPTS Well Collision Avoidance Subcommittee. Sawaryn is a past recipient of the SPE North Sea Region Technical Award for Drilling Engineering and Technical Editor’s Award, and was a Distinguished Lecturer. He holds BA and MA degrees in chemical engineering and a PhD in petroleum engineering from Cambridge University, UK. He has authored more than 40 SPE papers on drilling, completions, and drilling IT, and is a chartered engineer, chartered information technology professional, and fellow of the British Computer Society.

Health, Safety, and Environment Award

Sally M. Benson, who joined Stanford University in 2007, is codirector of Stanford’s Precourt Institute and a professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. She studies technologies and pathways to reducing greenhouse gas emissions including geologic storage of CO2 in deep underground formations and energy systems analysis for a low-carbon future. Prior to joining Stanford, Benson was division director for Earth sciences, associate laboratory director for energy sciences, and deputy director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She serves on the board of directors of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Climate Central. Currently she also serves on the advisory boards of Argonne National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton’s Adlinger Center, Japan’s Initiative for the Cool Earth Forum, and the Lahore University of Management Science in Pakistan. Over the past several years she participated in a number of National Academy of Sciences, Secretary of Energy, and National Petroleum Council research needs assessments related to carbon management. She also is on the editorial board for Energy and Environmental Science. Benson holds a BA from Barnard College and MS and PhD degrees in material science and mineral engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Management and Information Award

Jim Crompton is director of Reflections Data Consulting and an adjunct professor in the Petroleum Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines. He co-authored The Future Belongs to the Digital Engineer and The Digital Journey of the Oil and Gas Industry, and has also coauthored more than 20 papers and talks at SPE Digital Energy and other industry data management, standards, and analytics conferences. He has been the recipient of numerous SPE awards and has been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer, member of the Digital Energy Technical Section and Management and Information Advisory Council and Digital Transformation Training Workgroup, and chair of the Digital Transformation Subcommittee. He has also received numerous awards for career accomplishments in data management, and was elected to chair the general committee of the Petroleum Industry Data Exchange (PIDX). Crompton had a 37-year career with Chevron in geoscience, IT, and upstream positions. He holds a BSc in geophysical engineering and MS in geophysics from Colorado School of Mines and an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University.

Production and Operations Award

Elisio Caetano is a senior consultant in multiphase production technology for Petrobras, where he has worked since 1977. He is recognized for his contributions to multiphase flow in annular configurations, multiphase pumping and metering technologies, and for his coordination of the conceptual design of an R&D center devoted to the integrated operations of digital fields (presalt Santos Basin). He has coauthored a US patent; authored, coauthored, or coordinated nearly 200 publications including technical papers, book chapters, a book revision, and the first Portuguese-language petroleum dictionary; and has presented at various conferences. He also has been a visiting or collaborating professor at universities in Brazil, the US, and Mexico, where has taught, lectured, advised post-graduates, and participated in examining committees. He is a former SPE Regional Award recipient in Production and Operations in Brazil and the Latin American and Caribbean Region. Caetano holds a mechanical engineer degree from Sao Paulo State University, a lato-sensu post-graduation in pipeline and terminals engineering from the corporate university of Petrobras, an MSc in nuclear engineering and energy planning from Rio de Janeiro Federal University, and a PhD in petroleum engineering from the University of Tulsa.

Projects, Facilities, and Construction Award

Phaneendra Kondapi is interim assistant dean of engineering programs and founding director of engineering programs at the University of Houston at Katy, and professor and director of subsea engineering at the University of Houston. He is also a former professor of practice in subsea engineering at Texas A&M University. He has more than 28 years of experience as a manager, project manager, project lead, and simulation engineer around the globe in upstream, offshore, and process industries, including with ABB Simcon, MSi Kenny, FMC, and KBR. Kondapi codeveloped the first subsea engineering program in the US and the first-in-the-world dual master’s program in mechanical and subsea engineering. He has chaired the SPE Flow Assurance Technical Section and the 2015 Flow Assurance Forum and served on numerous technical and conference subcommittees. He also has been the recipient of numerous society awards and honors. He has organized or chaired more than 45 technical sessions at various international conferences and authored or coauthored more than 25 articles in journals and magazines. Kondapi holds BS and MS degrees in chemical engineering from Andhra University in India, and a PhD in chemical engineering from Tennessee Technological University.

Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award

William D. (Bill) McCain, Jr. is visiting professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University. He began his engineering career with Esso/Exxon, then joined the petroleum engineering faculty at Mississippi State University, serving as head of the department for 11 years. He then joined S.A. Holditch & Associates, retiring as senior vice president, chief engineer, and member of the board of the directors. McCain has been associated with the Petroleum Engineering Department at Texas A&M in various full- and part-time roles since 1984. He has three US patents, has published 38 technical papers, and has presented and otherwise participated in many technical conferences. He has also published five books, including three editions of Properties of Petroleum Fluids. He is an SPE Distinguished Member and has served in numerous leadership and committee positions in SPE, including chairing the Education and Accreditation Committee and the ­Mississippi Section, and serving as technical editor of SPE Reservoir Engineering. McCain holds a BS degree from Mississippi State College and MS and PhD degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology, all in chemical engineering.

Sustainability and Stewardship in the Oil and Gas Industry Award

Karen Olson, who is currently director of technology for Southwestern Energy Company (SWN), is the inaugural recipient of the Sustainability and Stewardship in the Oil and Gas Industry Award, which recognizes the outstanding efforts of individuals in the upstream oil and gas industry in promoting and adopting the relatively new concepts of sustainable development. Before being appointed to her current position, Olson was director of the Strategic Solutions Team, accountable for leading SWN’s Freshwater Neutral Initiative, and was the company’s corporate completion engineering chief. During her 30-year career in completion and reservoir engineering, she has applied her expertise in design, modeling, and operational execution of hydraulic fracturing as Gulf of Mexico deepwater completion team leader and North Sea stimulation team leader for BP and Mobil. Olson has been active with SPE for more than 30 years in local sections, workshops, and conferences, including chairing the 2014–2016 SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conferences. She has authored or coauthored 15 technical papers and presented at numerous SPE events. She has been the recipient of numerous SPE regional and international awards, including SPE Distinguished Membership, and has been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer, speaking on the topic, “Freshwater Neutral: Managing Water Use and Giving Back to the Environment.” She is a member of the SPE HSE Technical Director’s and Completions Technical Director’s advisory committees. Olson holds a BS in petroleum engineering from Louisiana State University and an MS in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University, where she serves on the Industry Board for the Petroleum Engineering Department.

Distinguished Members

The SPE Distinguished Membership recognizes SPE members who achieve distinction deemed worthy of special recognition. This award acknowledges members who have attained eminence in the petroleum industry or the academic community, or who have made significant contributions to SPE.

Dhafer Al-Shehri, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
Vasile Badiu, Senior Researcher
Baojun Bai, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Sameeh Batarseh, Saudi Aramco
Mark Brinsden, Vektor Energy
Frank Chang, Saudi Aramco
Anil Chopra, PetroTel Group
David Cramer, ConocoPhillips
Eric Delamaide, IFP Technologies (Canada)
Hosnia Hashim, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
Zoya Heidari, The University of Texas at Austin
Mars Khasanov, Gazprom Neft
Kenneth Kibodeaux, Aramco Services Company: Aramco Research Center
István Lakatos, Hungary Oil and Gas Plc. and University of Misolc, Poland
Carl Montgomery, NSI Engineering
Douglas Peck, BHP
Margaretha Rijken, Chevron
Ray (Zhenhua) Rui, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Darcy Spady, Independent Director and Advisor
Willem Van Adrichem, Schlumberger (Retired)
Mary Van Domelen, Well Data Labs
Claudio Virues, Alberta Energy Regulator
Xiangzeng Wang, Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum Group
Tao Yang, Equinor