En Route: How Do We Pay for SPE Programs and Services?
- Alain Labastie (2011 SPE President)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 12 - 14
- 2011. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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The issue of costs of SPE programs and services comes up periodically, so I would like to talk about that in this column. We recently received remarks from some members about the fees they were paying to attend an SPE workshop. Their perception was that because the workshop program was organized by volunteers, there was virtually no cost for SPE and thus SPE was making a huge profit. Although I can see how this perception can come about, the conclusion is simply not accurate. Most SPE events break even financially, and any surplus that is generated by SPE events is used to support other SPE programs that members value but are not self-supporting.
First, it is important to remember that SPE is a not-for-profit organization. This means that we do not conduct programs just to make money—we put our revenues back into member programs and services. Our programs fall into four substantially different financial perspectives:
- A few—mostly the major conferences (Offshore Technology Conference and Offshore Europe, for example)—generate large financial surpluses.
- Some—workshops, for example—generate modest surpluses, but we are continually challenged to maintain a positive balance overall.
- Some—like the peer-reviewed journals—are not self-supporting, since subscriptions and advertising provide only partial recovery of expenditures.
- And finally, some—like the Distinguished Lecturers program and scholarships—generate zero income and have only costs associated with them. These programs simply could not be continued if we did not have a financially successful meetings portfolio.
Events are the primary source of SPE revenues. Because they are so critical to supporting the other programs and services, let me talk about those in a little more detail.
Yes, volunteers’ efforts are critical to formulation of the technical program. But there are many direct costs associated with an event. We have to pay for all logistics: meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment, coffee and food for breaks and lunches, printing and distribution of materials, etc. These events also require a lot of staff time. It is not only the event staff, but also staff who work on marketing, website, registration, accounting, sponsorships, and other activities required to run the events and make them successful. At the end, most of the fee paid by a workshop registrant is used to cover the direct costs. To generate some revenue for other SPE activities valued by members that generate little or no revenue, we target a modest profit—much less than people are very often thinking; Even so, many workshops just break even or lose money.
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