SPE 101

SPE Awards: Not Just for ‘Seasoned’ Professionals!

With the global breadth of the oil and gas exploration and production industry, it can be easy to lose sight of the impact individual contributions can have on the petroleum community at large. For more than 50 years, the Society of Petroleum Engineers has aimed to help rectify this through several awards that shine a spotlight on outstanding contributions made to the industry.

Each year, SPE gives regional and international awards to deserving nominees (see sidebar). These awards recognize a variety of achievements in all aspects of our industry, from drilling to formation evaluation, academics to corporate support. Many awards are given for life-long contributions. For example, Honorary Membership is limited to less than 0.1% of SPE’s total membership. However, if a potential nominee has not been in the industry long enough to be considered a seasoned professional, fear not! There are a number of awards designated specifically for young professionals or for which YPs are often excellent candidates (shown in bold text in the sidebar).

Since SPE does not allow self-nomination, it’s important to recognize that if you dream of someday receiving an SPE award, one way to start along that path is by getting involved in your local section by asking section officers what you can do to help. As your contributions to the industry and to SPE expand year by year, you may one day be an award nominee.

What makes for a well-qualified nominee? A good first step is to determine which award best applies to the candidate. This will depend on the nature of their contributions (e.g., technical award or service award). There are also eligibility criteria that must be met for each award (see for details). Occasionally some awards are not presented due to a lack of nominees, so we urge readers to work with their local SPE section to identify qualified candidates. As a result, sometimes you might be looking for candidates who fit an award, rather than awards that fit a candidate.

Once you’ve selected an appropriate nominee and award, begin the nomination process by visiting, where you’ll find all the latest forms and nomination instructions. When compiling a nomination, be sure to completely fill out the application—don’t leave blanks! Help the selection committee understand what sets your candidate apart by using clear, concise statements to illustrate why a nominee is deserving of an award. Be specific. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes nominations are poorly written. Consider this fictitious example: “Maria served on our scholarship committee and as YP liaison. She is now our membership chair.” Nothing here makes Maria stand out. Instead, the nominator could write “While serving on the scholarship committee, Maria helped us to engage a larger student audience than we had previously been able to reach. Our applicant pool is now twice as big as it used to be. As a YP liaison, Maria brought energy to what had been a struggling program. It is now alive and well with regular technical and social activities. Now serving as our section membership chair, Maria has identified a number of innovative ways our section can recruit and retain members. We are starting to implement her ideas.”

Letters of recommendation are an important part of most award nominations. When considering whom to ask for a letter of recommendation, consider their knowledge of the candidate and their stature within SPE. It may be desirable to show the breadth of an individual’s contribution by having letters submitted by colleagues working for a different company than your nominee. Be sure to check to verify the requirements regarding recommendation letters for the specific award you are considering.

Preparing a great nomination isn’t as hard as it may seem. Giving your candidate the best chance to succeed does take effort, so bear in mind that nominations are typically due by 15 February and that they may take several weeks to prepare. If you’re overwhelmed by the process or have questions, SPE staff are always available to help (contact for international awards or for regional awards). All nomination materials will be kept confidential.

Current SPE Awards

Membership Awards

Honorary Membership, Distinguished Membership

Technical Awards

Anthony F. Lucas Technical Leadership Gold Medal, John Franklin Carll Distinguished Professional Award, Lester C. Uren Technical Excellence Award, Completions Optimization and Technology Award, Drilling Engineering Award, Formation Evaluation Award, Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility Award, Management and Information Award, Production and Operations Award, Projects, Facilities, and Construction Award, Reservoir Description and Dynamics Award

Professional Awards

Cedric K. Ferguson Young Technical Author Medal, Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal, DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Corporate Support Award, Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty, Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Service Award, Public Service Award, Robert Earll McConnell Award, Young Member Outstanding Service Award, Regional Service Award*

Eligibility requirements and past recipients are listed at

Italics indicate awards available on both the regional and international level.

Bold text indicates awards either specifically set aside for young professionals or for which young professionals may often be well-qualified nominees.

*Available only at the regional level.


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