2016 SPE President Shares Insight With Calgary Students

The Canada region got a taste of what is to come with a visit from SPE’s leadership recently.

The 2016 SPE President, Nathan Meehan, recently spoke to the Calgary Section and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and University of Calgary student chapters. In his remarks to the students, Meehan focused on how every measure of life correlates to energy use.

“One of the things I really want to accomplish is related to the social license to operate,” Meehan said. He strongly believes that it’s vital to communicate how essential energy is to improving peoples’ lives. “Our industry is just too important and what we do is too valuable for us not to do a better job of communicating with the public.”

Meehan hopes that both individuals and companies can do their part to generate clearer communication about the industry and all issues associated with it.

“We have to emphasize the importance of what we do as an industry,” he said. “The real reason I am an engineer to not to maximum shareholder value. It’s because what we do is important and valuable to society, so it’s critical we do an effective job.”

He noted that especially during downturns, new technology becomes critical and it spawns innovations.

“When prices and activity levels are at their peak, people don’t attempt new technology,” he said. “This is when the best innovations come out.”

Meehan admits Calgary is close to his heart, since he has early ties in his career here as chairman of the CMG Reservoir Simulation Foundation and as director of the Computer Modelling Group. Before joining Baker Hughes as senior executive adviser, Meehan was president of CMG Petroleum Consulting, vice president of engineering for Occidental Oil & Gas, and general manager exploration and production at Union Pacific Resources.

He officially takes the helm as president at SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Houston in September of this year.

Meehan holds a BSc degree in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, an MSc degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma, and a PhD degree in petroleum engineering from Stanford University. He served on advisory boards of the University of Texas and the University of Houston and currently serves on the EME industry relations board at Pennsylvania State, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, and the Advisory Board of World Oil. He is the recipient of the Lester C. Uren Award for Distinguished Achievement in Petroleum Engineering and the DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal and has served as a Distinguished Lecturer. He is a licensed professional engineer in four US states and has published scores of papers and two books.

New Student Chapters Find Homes at Canadian Universities

Two New Student Chapters Formed


Two new Student Chapters have been welcomed into the SPE Canada Region familu, and both events and attendance have been ramping up since their launch.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) and McGill University have become the latest installments in the Canadian Region’s group of 13 student chapters.

Monetarily sponsored by the Calgary and Vancouver sections, student chapters consist of a minimum of 15 students in university who are or intend to be SPE members.

President of the SPE UBC Chapter and final year chemical engineering student Fahim Salam says the chapter of 48 members began with the need to broaden goals and find a larger platform for both students and professionals.

“In times when there has been an outrage of divestment causes, it is very important, as educated individuals, that we try and provide fact-based analysis to the situation and provide a common ground for open discussion regarding what is important for the students, the industry, and the Canadian economy as a whole,” he said. “It is necessary and we need to provide proper energy literacy for the growing student community through lectures, workshops, and networking sessions.”

Some events have included hosting networking nights, industry talks, and collaborating with the UBC School of Journalism in writing papers about the falling oil prices and its effects on Canadian import and export.

“A common meeting ground for the students and professionals, under the banner of SPE, provides unprecedented levels of knowledge and exposure to what new technologies are being introduced, what projects are they working on and where the industry is headed. This in in turn also helps the individual students to gain motivation and steer their careers accordingly within the petroleum industry.”

The remainder of the year will continue the momentum with prepare students to participate in next year’s SPE Petro Bowl and ASEC Case Competition, speaking with the University of Washington for possible collaboration into opening another chapter, and promoting the club further and increase membership.

“We think we have come pretty far from where we started but we have to go a lot further in terms of meeting our ultimate goal (i.e., the student community growing larger and spreading energy literacy amongst their peers),” Salam said. “UBC students are not prepared enough to tackle hard-hitting policy issues or they are indifferent. We have to train them to think outside the classroom.”

McGill University’s 77 members have also been experiencing success and growing numbers since its kick off in late summer 2014.

“Our main goal is to provide educational opportunities for our members to learn about the oil and gas industry and the vast array of career opportunities that it offers,” said Garrett Bangsboll, newly appointed president of the McGill student chapter. “McGill University is a strong institution moulding very capable and ambitious graduates. We aim to the level of increased industry exposure here in order to grow stronger professionally and recruiting relationships between the industry and our eager student body.”

The chapter’s goal is the provide opportunities to improve networking and soft skills as well as a place to learn about and address key industry topics.

“Involvement with the McGill Society of Petroleum Engineers has been, and will continue to be, an extremely rewarding experience,” Bangsboll said. “The events that have been held to date have been excellent opportunities to broaden my knowledge of the industry and it has been very encouraging to see the positive feedback we have received from our member base.”

With more than 230 SPE student chapters around the world, students use the chapter to gain access to industry knowledge and networking opportunities. Any interest in starting a student chapter or section should be directed to Jill Thomas at jthomas@spe.org.


Collaboration to be Focus of This Year’s SPE Canada Heavy Oil Technical Conference

The networking and knowledge sharing event of the season is drawing near with the upcoming 2015 SPE Canada Heavy Oil Technical Conference taking place 9–11 June at BMO Centre in Calgary.

The theme this year is “Barrels of Knowledge,” intending to build on a strong tradition of using formal paper presentations and networking to advance corporate and individual knowledge of current technology.

Conference chair Cal Coulter says organizers are developing this year’s conference with the working petroleum engineer in mind.

“It’s about collaboration,” said Coulter of the conference’s sessions. “It’s timely in terms of an industry that is turned down and looking for alternate solutions. It offers, as always and maybe more than always, networking opportunities and a chance to meet people and ideas that can help those who are underemployed.”

He added that despite the downturn the industry is currently facing, the question of “What can we do in the meantime to make sure we are at the top of our game when oil prices do come back up?” is relevant to ask. The conference can provide real-time input of the state of the heavy-oil industry to attendees.

The conference provides a variety of oil-sands engineering insight provided by multidisciplinary presentations, including on intellectual property issues. Held in conjunction with the Global Petroleum Show, the event will be attended by engineers, geologists, and professionals involved in the heavy-oil industry.

The conference will also feature Steven Bryant as the opening keynote speaker, whose presentation on nanotechnology and his work with an integrated team of researchers from the University of Calgary will aim to drastically change how oil sands are developed.

A new addition to the conference this year will be the SPE Panel Session & Product Value Enhancement, which will give the opportunity to SPE members to ask society managers and directors face to face questions about how SPE is working for them and what more can be done to enhance membership services.

Visit http://www.spe.org/events/choc/2015/ for more details.