Volume: 1 | Issue: 1

The Rise of Facilities Engineers

Welcome to my first column in our new magazine, Oil and Gas Facilities, a key element in the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ (SPE) strategic initiative to further develop its facilities engineering constituency. Why is SPE doing this? The answer is quite straightforward.

Facilities engineers in the oil and gas industry have grown in stature over the past decade—the huge sums of capital we now spend have assured that. We are a growing presence as facilities become larger and more complex. Time was when only drillers, reservoir engineers, and accountants made the big decisions in the industry, but not any more. Facilities engineers play a critical role in making our industry successful: We control huge sums of capital; we are responsible for building and maintaining safe and reliable infrastructure; and we link the resource to the end user. In summary, we are important and we are a well-defined subset of “energy engineers.”

Because there is no Society of Facilities Engineers, SPE is our natural home, and it is making great strides in meeting our needs in meetings, workshops, and with this new magazine.

How did I get to take up valuable column space in Oil and Gas Facilities? I volunteered. Volunteerism is the magic ingredient of SPE. We are a society of volunteers from the board of directors, to workshop committees, and to the authors of papers and articles here. In our discipline, we have the usual volunteer activities of the society, as well as opportunities to make use of SPE’s resources.

One of our biggest opportunities is to form more Projects, Facilities, and Construction study groups, which are made up of volunteers at the regional or section level to promote the exchange of information among members. Typically, a group meets at a monthly meeting featuring a guest speaker; in Houston, it is a lunch; in Perth, it is a Monday evening after work. In both locations, facilities engineers gather to listen, learn, and network. It is a valuable investment in time; it is even more to help organize. I speak from experience and have advocated expanding the concept around the globe. If you are reading this in Lagos, Luanda, Rio, or somewhere else, and want to help start a study group in your area, drop me an email at and I will put you in touch with local SPE staff.

So what’s next? In coming issues, I will explore such diverse topics as how we can improve the adoption of new technologies, the future of deep water, how facilities engineers need to be able to “speak reservoir,” and how many facilities engineers are really water engineers, not oil and gas engineers. Watch this space.

Paul S. Jones is the technology center manager at Chevron and a past SPE technical director for Projects, Facilities, and Construction.

He is a member of the Editorial Board of Oil and Gas Facilities.



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