Phil Chandler: SPE is a

Phil Chandler: SPE is a "global family" that helps people build up their careers

The world's largest professional non-profit oil and gas community, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), has been present in Ukraine for many years in Ivano-Frankivsk, Poltava, and Kharkiv. And recently the SPE representative office was opened in Kyiv. Phil Chandler, Director of SPE Events in Europe and the Caspian Region, talks about the work, prospects and benefits of SPE membership in an exclusive interview by ExPro.


The SPE section was recently opened in Kyiv with the facilitation by Naftogaz of Ukraine. How large is the workforce of the SPE to station currently have in Ukraine and what does this mean for the oil and gas industry?

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is a very unique organisation. The reason it can operate in so many countries is due to the volunteerism of its members. SPE has a global membership (144 countries) of over 140,000 including 65,858 student members split into professional members (Sections) and student members (Chapters). It is these members that allow us to have such a great reach into the industry. In the Ukraine there are now 2 professional sections and 5 Chapters. SPE’s mission is to collect, disseminate and exchange technical knowledge concerning the exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources and related technologies for the public benefit; and to provide opportunities for professionals to enhance their technical and professional competence. By having professional sections in countries it gives the opportunity for members to network with like minded technical experts to seek solutions to issues they may be facing and also to be aware of the most up to date technology that will help them to provide energy in the most cost effective and sustainable way. SPE allows the industry to network and move forward in delivering energy solutions to a global audience.

A few years ago a section was opened in Ivano-Frankivsk. How do you evaluate their work there?

All Sections and even Chapters on a yearly basis have to submit an annual report showing what they have done, so we can see their productivity and that they are following SPE principles. We also have Regional Directors from the Industry that over their 3 year commitment visit all the sections and see how we can help them increase membership, provide more programmes locally and make sure the chapters are feeding their members into the oil & gas industry for employment opportunities. I am delighted to say that the Ivano–Franskivsk section has won for the last two years in a row the Section Excellence Award for their work in the industry.

Who in Ukraine can become a member of the SPE and how much does it cost? What are the benefits of such a membership?

To become a professional member you need to be employed in work relating to the petroleum industry and have one of the following:

  • University degree equivalent to a 4-yr Bachelors Degree in engineering, basic or applied sciences
  • 2-yr science or engineering degree
  • 4-yr degree in a field other than science or engineering
  • 6 years active practice in support of petroleum engineering or the application of science to the petroleum industry.

The disciplines of SPE covers a wide range incorporating:

  • Completions
  • Data Science and Engineering Analytics
  • Drilling
  • Projects, Facilities and Construction
  • Health, Safety Environment & Sustainability
  • Management
  • Production & Operations
  • Reservoir

Membership dues are: USD 25 – 130 per year, based on country of residence.

  • The benefits are:
  • Discounted event registration
  • Special pricing on books and subscriptions
  • Discounts on SPE papers in the OnePetro library
  • Subscription to JPT
  • The ability to network with other SPE members via SPE Connect, Technical Sections
  • Free online webinars/training at SPE Online Education
  • Attend programmes organized by the local sections
  • Attend the events provided by the SPE Distinguished Lecturers

What practical issues can the SPE help to address?

For example, Ukraine plans to develop offshore production, but lacks sufficient competence. Could your organization be helpful in such endeavors?

SPE can indeed help here in two ways. Firstly, set up the chapters in relevant universities to try and enthuse the right future leaders and technical experts to join the oil & gas industry as a worthwhile and long-term career. Once a professional member, the technical conferences, workshops and forums then become more relevant such as the recently launched SPE Eastern European Subsurface conference taking place in Kyiv on the 23-24 November.

Secondly, by joining the technical sections that we have, utilizing the networking tools and the vast library of over 250,000 technical papers, they will have a global pool of up to date technology at their fingertips that they can research and use.

In which European countries does the SPE have the largest SPE representation? What are they doing there?

Our largest concentration of membership are focused in the countries and towns that have a historical link to the oil & gas industry, so Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Stavanger, Huston are examples. All of the sections are doing very much the same, workshops, training, industry meetings, talent investment with the chapters and awards throughout the year and at least one or two social gatherings mostly around the festive seasons. It is true to say that where there is a large back bone of oil & gas companies SPE has a large presence.

How does SPE work with natural gas producers, drilling and/or other service companies? Can it help its members with employment?

Regarding jobs in the industry we work with SMART JOBBOARD and members can access this to see what is available. When it comes to being a member and assisting with job opportunities, it is very much like other Societies. It is not necessarily just being a member that helps but what you have done whilst being a member of the society that interests future employers.

What activities does the SPE carry out? Does it publish bulletins or other industry publications?

SPE has a large selection of other activities covering magazines, Petrowiki (SPE’s equivalent of Wikipedia), online training, energy4me school programmes, training courses and OnePetro the multi society technical paper library.

There are SPE student sections in Ukraine. How are they different from the usual ones?

All the sections will be different, no two sections are the same. The balance of disciplines may be different based on its location and the local oil & gas companies in that area will also dictate the member balance and the programmes that are produced and so on.

What are the peculiars about SPE? How are you different from other trade unions, such as APEGA?

I am not very familiar with the APEGA, I believe that the APEGA is purely a regional association with Canada. SPE is a global society that is a non for profit where all of its revenue is used to provide membership benefits. SPE is very much a family, a global family which helps people build their careers. To put it in perspective I have worked for SPE for nearly 8 years and where-ever I have been there are SPE members and they are willing to help. To me this is unusual. The ethos behind volunteerism and the fact that they will help if they can, no questions asked is why I work for the SPE and why I will continue to work for them.