New President Will Oversee SPE’s Revised Short-Term Strategy

At Seoul National University meeting with student chapter.

Darcy Spady, the 2018 SPE president, is the first Canadian to have been elected to this position. Spady, who works with Calgary-based Broadview Energy, has been an active SPE member since graduating from university.

With an extensive background in the natural gas, oil, and heavy oil segments of the industry, including stints with Schlumberger, Columbia Natural Resources, and having served on a number of board of small and start-up companies, he is well placed to oversee SPE’s broad global activities with a balanced eye.

He will officially take office on Wednesday, succeeding 2017 President Janeen Judah of Chevron.

In this interview, Spady lays out his plans for his term and offers his view of where SPE should be headed. An extended interview is available at

What are the main goals you would like to accomplish?

I have five main goals:

  • The first one is revising the SPE Strategic Plan, which has not been updated in 5 years, and which charts the course of SPE. Times have changed dramatically, and it is a different industry and a different SPE.

  • The second comes from my background in the industry and the company I am with, Broadview Energy. I have a special interest in heavy oil technology and would like to promote the importance of that.

  • The third goal is something I have been talking about in the past year since I was nominated: the importance of increasing awareness about the need for community consensus and corporate social responsibility.

  • The fourth is to ensure that SPE’s new sections and sections that may be in remote areas receive the same quality of programs and services that the larger, better-established sections receive.

  • The fifth is to represent and support the independent and small producers around the world. 

Regarding the SPE strategic plan: to the average member, what is its importance?

SPE has not done one in 5 years and industry conditions have changed dramatically. Put yourself back 5 years ago: SPE was in growth mode, adding new programs and services, and the oil price was $100/bbl and something. Contrast that to today where oil is at $40-50/bbl. Prioritization of staff time and prioritization of program spending has become critical, and members have strong opinions about whether SPE is serving the right areas. So the strategic plan amounts to efficiency planning in a down market, and planning our programs and services in a way that best serves our membership. The plan should be rolled out in early 2018. 

How has the downturn affected SPE?

Membership retention has been solid, which signals that SPE remains of great value to our members. On the other side, the downturn has been tough from a services-provided point of view. SPE did a very good job of quickly reacting to the downturn, but we have had to make tough decisions at the board level and SPE staff was reduced, which was very difficult.

One thing that has changed over the past several years is SPE’s demographics. How will that affect SPE and the types of programs and services it offers?

The Great Crew Change is over, and how it’s going to affect us is that the younger generation is more involved in SPE, which is awesome! This change, which is throughout the industry, means that a younger group is part of the decision making and they are the future.

Western petroleum countries are increasingly under a magnifying glass; there are protests about resource industries in countries that we would not have expected. But the “newer” countries involved in oil and gas are rushing ahead with the understanding that the world needs hydrocarbons and technology is going to quadruple in hydrocarbon-extraction industries, and they are proudly embracing the future. That shift will change the demographic of the industry and will affect SPE as well.

As you talk to members around the world, both professionals and students, what issues are they most concerned about?

The first thing that comes to mind is that a lot of people are unsure about the future direction of the industry because of oil prices. Most technical people, younger members especially, know that there are years and years of need on the hydrocarbon consumption side and it is a matter of keeping the technology ahead of the need. So there is a lot of optimism about the long-term existence of our industry. But the oil price is always at the forefront of everybody’s thoughts.

One thing that is pleasantly surprising is how engaged our members are over this theme of community consensus and corporate social responsibility. It is now part of the DNA of our industry. I’ll quote Prime Minister Trudeau, who said that Canadians will “no longer choose anymore between economy and environment”. That message is now global. It is not a matter of choosing economy or environment, we now choose both. We are in an era that is going to watch our environmental habits as much as our economic successes.  

New President Will Oversee SPE’s Revised Short-Term Strategy

09 October 2017

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