Q&A with Arlie Skov
- Arlie Skov (Arlie M. Skov Inc.) | John Donnelly (JPT Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 16 - 19
- 2007. 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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Editor’s Note: In recognition of SPE’s 50th anniversary this year, JPT is conducting interviews with several Society luminaries about their careers, their relationship with SPE, and the changes they have seen in the oil and gas industry and the Society over the past several decades.
What do you think are the most significant changes that have occurred in the industry since you joined it 5 decades ago?
There have been many changes, both dramatic and multidimensional. Foremost, I think, has been in technology, documented and disseminated wonderfully well by SPE. The industry has gone from simple vertical onshore wells to extended-reach, horizontal, and multilateral wells in water 2 miles deep and under permafrost or arctic pack ice, using digital 3D and 4D seismic, all of which was unimaginable 50 years ago.
Next, perhaps, is the dramatic increase in oil production outside the U.S. In 1956, the U.S. was producing nearly half of the world’s oil; now it is less than 10%. Past SPE leaders should be given great credit for making the painful, at the time, decisions that enabled SPE to become genuinely international.
Additionally, natural gas has gone from being essentially a waste product and priced as such to becoming the cleanest fuel available and in great demand worldwide. Also, the implied employment contract, between a professional and the company for which he works, has changed. Fifty years ago, the employer was much more paternalistic, and mutual loyalty between the professional employee and his employer was expected and respected. Now it is a much more competitive, and often even adversarial, environment. That has both good and bad features, but mostly it is just different and must be recognized and accepted as such.
Another huge factor worldwide is a greatly heightened concern for the environment, specifically the perception that global warming, caused in part by fossil fuel use, is a serious problem. Global warming is now center stage in the political arena, and the impact on the industry likely will be large and uncomfortable. But it will not now, nor in the foreseeable future, eliminate the world’s need for oil and gas.
What are the most significant changes that have occurred in SPE?
There have been quite a few changes. A significant one was the evolution of SPE from a branch of the American Inst. of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers to a truly independent Society 50 years ago, and then becoming a technical society that addressed specifically and broadly the burgeoning need for technology documentation and distribution within the oil and gas industry.
Next in terms of importance, perhaps, was the decision by SPE leaders to become genuinely international. As the focus of oil and gas exploration and production moved away from U.S. shores, so did the development of and need for technology. SPE’s mission to capture that technology, wherever it was developed, and to disseminate it to wherever it was needed, became global in scope.
Finally, I would cite the more recent decision by the SPE Board of Directors to enhance an expensive but vital worldwide electronic network, SPE.org, which is accessible anyplace in the world at any time by any and all professionals in petroleum technology.
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