SPE’s New Strategic Plan—Emphasizing Pride in What We Do

It is an honor for me to serve as the SPE president for the next 12 months. Without hesitation, I knew that I would devote my year as president to a theme related to energy sustainability.

I want to create conversations not only on the current and future image of our industry and the pride our work deserves, but also in the context of the accountability and responsibility that this pride imposes. We can be proud of our contributions and doing the right things, but we bear the responsibility to do things correctly.

As part of preparing SPE’s new strategic plan, the SPE Board considered some of the challenges facing our industry:

  • Oil and gas will remain a key component of the global energy mix, but will face greater competition for market share in some areas.
  • Oil and gas prices will remain volatile.
  • Roles and skills of oil and gas professionals are shifting as new technologies and data analytics take larger roles.
  • The digital revolution will affect member needs and expectations.
  • Attracting and retaining talent will continue to be a challenge for the industry in some areas.
  • Negative public perception will continue to affect the industry’s “license to operate.”
  • Society expects the oil and gas industry to meet the world’s energy needs in a manner that protects the environment.

Oil and gas currently account for around 55% of the world’s energy supply and most projections show a slight percentage decline through 2040, but quantity of required oil and gas to meet the global energy demand (which is what matters) will increase. This means that oil and gas will continue to be important to meeting global energy needs for a long time. Even as renewables and other energy sources grow, mainly for the power generation sector, world demand for hydrocarbon energy will grow faster in transportation, industrial, and petrochemicals sectors. The world will need higher daily oil and gas production rates as compared to the current capacity. Only our industry can deliver the fuel to support this growth. The cyclical nature of prices for these commodities is likely to remain with us.

To help the industry meet these challenges, the SPE strategic plan focuses on the potential impact of current advances in big data, artificial intelligence, and digital technology. The industry, with the help of academia and SPE, needs to accelerate readiness and adoption of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0)—the Internet of Things, robotics, nanotechnology, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, advanced visualization, 3D printing, and predictive analytics. We need to adopt new models to take advantage of these technologies and data analytics. Based on this, we, as the main professional society serving the upstream sector of our industry, need to focus our technical knowledge collection and dissemination strategy through our events and publications to meet the expectations of our industry and our members in these areas. We also want to reach out to the data scientists and other domain experts joining our industry to demonstrate the value of being part of the SPE community.

To put this plan into action, SPE programs will be more relevant, more forward-thinking, and will embrace the full range of technical and functional competencies in the third millennium, including embracing digital technology to expand global access to our programs. SPE will react nimbly to changing technology and market needs, taking advantage of the IR4.0 revolution.

We believe that our industry will continue to face competition from other industries in attracting top talent. Embracing the digital revolution will help us compete. But improving the perceptions of our industry, and its environmental and safety performance, will be invaluable. This is something we can, and must, do.

Accordingly, and as part of the strategic planning process, SPE Board members who participated in the strategic plan update exercise unanimously recommended updating our vision statement as follows:

To advance the oil and gas community’s ability to meet the world’s energy demands in a safe, environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.

The use of the terms energy and sustainable reflect the importance of our role in supporting the international ­economy and our full engagement in social development and environmental stewardship while meeting the increasing global energy demand.

The revised strategic plan also emphasizes the concept of OneSPE, which states that programs and activities of the society should serve the global, diversified membership while addressing local needs, supporting technical and professional excellence, and making wise use of SPE’s resources.

SPE programs will also be anchored in technical excellence and high ethical standards. Through our technical programs and events, we will facilitate innovation and collaboration to advance technology and expand the industry’s capacity to develop resources responsibly and cost-effectively. Doing these things will help us to attract the best and brightest talent who want to be part of thriving, global, and technologically advanced communities.

Simply, the strategic plan reflects the synergy among SPE, its active members, the industry, the communities where we operate, the environment, and the planet. This mirrors a concept I am fond of, that of the Citizen Engineer who performs his engineering duties with excellence, integrity, and pride while caring about community, environment, and the planet.

Many SPE members may be unfamiliar with sustainable development concepts. You will hear me talking a lot about them over the coming year. I want all members to recognize and be proud of our contributions to society.

We, as members, need to increase our understanding of our industry’s added value and great positive impact locally, regionally, and internationally. The oil and gas industry directly benefits people’s lives on a daily basis, and we need to be able to communicate these values to both internal stakeholders (SPE and industry communities) and external stakeholders (public, civic, financial, and social organizations).

We also need to educate students—especially in petroleum engineering programs around the world—about the value our industry brings. We influence local economies, we enhance human lifestyles, we protect the environment, and we uplift social development. Rarely do you find an industry that does all of that.

I am very happy to see the mission and vision of several petroleum engineering schools around the world reflect these noble concepts. These schools reflect the role of the oil and gas industry to improve human life and provide energy for all mankind.

For example, the vision of the College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering of Colorado School of Mines is: “A world where earth, energy and environment are wisely managed.” The college mission is “To improve lives through vibrant and creative science and engineering education, research and global engagement focused on earth’s resources and societal needs.”

Another good example is the definition of petroleum engineering by Jon Olson, the chairman of the petroleum and geosystems engineering department of the University of Texas at Austin. He says that “petroleum engineering is an exciting field of professionals dedicated to providing energy that powers a modern society. Our department is committed to educating the next generation of petroleum engineering leaders who will ­improve our quality of life.”

I hope that other petroleum engineering schools will soon transform their programs to reflect the role of petroleum engineers in powering the global economy, protecting the environment, serving society, and improving human life.
SPE will remain the major essential source for upstream oil and gas knowledge transfer globally. SPE’s sustainability community, with more than 1,500 active members, is actively implementing this strategy through open communication and collaboration with all relevant organizations, furthering discussions and knowledge sharing about oil and gas sustainability.

We need to be recognized for our contributions to ensuring adequate energy supplies, reducing energy poverty, enhancing social development, protecting the environment, and developing our resources responsibly. I want all SPE members to be able to smile when they think about how their work, and that of their colleagues, make a positive impact on people’s lives every single day around the world.

SPE’s New Strategic Plan—Emphasizing Pride in What We Do

Sami Alnuaim, 2019 SPE President

01 November 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 11

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