During Aug. 1977, President F. F. Craig of SPE established an ad-hoc committee on manpower to implement a recommendation from the Society's approved long-range plan. This was that the Society sponsor an annual engineering manpower conference involving both petroleum industry management and the academic community. The conference was intended to (1) foster improved relations between these two groups and (2) provide a forum for deriving the future requirements for petroleum-related engineering graduates by the drilling and production segments of the petroleum industry.

It was recognized also that a look at future requirements required some type of forecast that could be used as a basis for a useful discussion. So it was requested that an SPE Manpower Forecast be developed that, if successful, could be continued as an annual statistical event.

During late 1977 and early 1978, the ad-hoc committee developed and sent out a questionnaire to a selected industry and university group. The responses to this questionnaire were used by Dr. Trevor Bain, an expert on manpower, to develop an analysis to be used by other speakers at the Engineering Manpower Conference. The first conference was held in Houston on June 6 and 7, 1978, and Dr. Bain's analysis, as well as papers given by other speakers at that conference were bound into a set of conference proceedings entitled Petroleum Engineering Manpower Supply and Demand. My purpose here is to provide you with some insight into the results of that conference and the associated survey.


When the committee examined the question of planning and organizing this conference, and designing the associated manpower survey, it developed a set of assumptions. But before outlining these assumptions, we might look at some historical data with regard to the supply of engineers and their associated starting salaries in industry.

At the 1976 SPE-AIME 51st Annual Fall Technical Conference and Exhibition, Robert L. Whiting presented a paper on "Future Trends in Supply of Petroleum Engineering Manpower" and Fig. 1 shows his data through 1972 on all BS engineering degrees, with petroleum engineers broken out separately. After 1972, the data axe from the Engineering Manpower Commission and the SPE Manpower Forecast.

The curves show that since 1958, the total BS engineering graduates of U.S. universities has ranged between about 35,000 to 45,000. During the same period, petroleum engineering graduates declined from about 700 to a little over 100 in 1964 and increased slowly to 300 in 1970, holding steady for several years, and now is projected to increase sharply this year (1978) and next.

Fig. 2 shows these data in a different way. If the graduating engineers in a given year awe compared with those 2 years previously, and the change expressed as a percentage of those graduating 2 years previously, we get an idea of the magnitude of the changes occurring. From 1958 through 1976, the percentage change occurring with time has been quite modest for all engineers. It has fluctuated within a fairly narrow range of about plus or minus 15%.

Not so, however, for petroleum engineers. Here the changes with time have fluctuated sharply from minus 63% to highs of +53 and 58%. This year, we are looking at a positive change of about 93%. During the 6 years 1964 to 1970, the over-all change has been an increase of 140%. For the 4 years ending 1980, we expect thus change to be even greater, or about 150%.

It is exceptionally difficult to measure the effects of historical demand, in effect, to what extent the supply of engineers has fallen short of demand for them. One way to judge qualitatively whether there has been a shortage is to examine starting salaries in relationship to those of other engineers.

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