SPE Professional Membership Increases Amid Shifting Demographics
Membership rose slightly as industry recovers from the pandemic, while the composition of the membership continues to change.
SPE’s professional membership at yearend 2022 is 66,701, up 1% from yearend 2021. The increase in membership, albeit modest, represents a significant turnaround from the membership declines experienced due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the pandemic beginning in early 2020, SPE experienced 2 years of significant membership declines, falling from 83,732 at the end of 2019 to 66,020 at the end of 2021. SPE’s membership typically follows industry activity trends with a 12- to 18-month lag, which led us to expect flat or slightly increased membership for 2022.
Professional membership grew in 2022 in three regions:
- Middle East and North Africa
- Asia Pacific
Most other regions saw small declines. The largest decline was in Europe, perhaps reflecting the shift of many companies in the region to emphasize investment in new energy sources.
SPE’s membership is continuing a long-term trend toward globalization. In 2004, North America accounted for nearly 60% of SPE’s membership. By 2013, members outside North America totaled more than 50% of professional members for the first time. In 2022, North America accounts for 36% of SPE’s professional members. Europe has also been declining, falling from 16.5% in 2004 to just under 10% today. The Middle East and North Africa region has seen the largest growth, from 8% in 2004 to 27% in 2022.
Student membership is also increasingly outside North America, although the regional pattern differs from the distribution of professional members. Nearly one-third of student members are in the Asia Pacific region.
One of the more interesting demographic shifts has been in the age of SPE professional members. In 2000, a significant share of SPE members were in the 40–50 age range. By 2022, those who have continued their membership create a significant cohort in the 60+ age range. The graphic shows how the influx of younger members grew between 2007 and 2017, but, by 2022, most are in their mid-career stage, with a smaller group following behind them. For those aged 35–39, the percentage of members is roughly equivalent between 2017 and 2022, but the percentage younger than 35 is significantly lower in 2022. Volatility of the industry and concerns about future opportunities may be leading fewer young people to pursue oil and gas careers.
One demographic that has not changed significantly over time is technical discipline selection. While SPE has split and realigned the disciplines over the years, the portion of members choosing each discipline has not shifted significantly. The graphic below shows the percentages of members by discipline (where members have selected a discipline).
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