International HSE Conference Takes Off Online

Bogota, Colombia

Health, safety, and environment (HSE) leaders from around the world logged on for SPE’s first virtual HSE conference on 27 July. The opening ceremony skipped the usual pomp in favor of socially distant presentations over video.

The 2020 SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability is being held concurrently with the SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference from 27 to 31 July. Originally planned to be held in Bogota, Colombia, the conferences were forced into the virtual space by the current global pandemic.

SPE’s 2021 President, Tom Blasingame, helped kick off the conference by providing perspective on the challenges presented by the pandemic. “While we may not know the future,” he said, “we do know that we, as a society of humans, have risen to literally every challenge we’ve faced during our evolution. This COVID-19 pandemic is no different.”

Blasingame, the overall-clad professor in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, said that this human drive to overcome challenges permeates the industry as well. “While the pandemic has affected literally everyone we know and everything we do, we know that we, as individuals and as an industry, will continue to provide society with the safest, most-reliable, most-sustainable, and most-secure forms of energy currently available,” he said.

In helping open the conference, Ecopetrol Chief Executive Officer Felipe Bayón praised the work of the industry and those who quickly translated the conference to a virtual platform. “Circumstances have been difficult,” he said, “but, I think, as an industry, we’re not only resilient, we’re able to adapt very, very quickly.”

That resilience was personified by the winner of the Outstanding Young Professional Award presented by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). David Ochanda, biodiversity coordinator with Total, Uganda, was presented with the award virtually during the opening session.

“David’s commitment is a prime example for leadership, innovation and impact,” said Fawaz Bitar, IOGP chairperson. “His work takes our industry’s environmental awareness to the next level. It’s a well-deserved win.”

“This demonstrates the remarkable inspiration, empowerment, and respect I have always received from my seniors and colleagues, not forgetting the great teamwork,” Ochanda said. “The award gives me more strength to challenge myself and perform even better.”


The full conference offers 13 plenary and panel sessions and 250 technical papers. Sessions are being recorded and will be available in the future.

Register and attend here.



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