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As SPE's Distinguished Lecture series wraps up its SPE section presentations for 2020–2021, a new series of virtual presentations stretches through the summer, providing access for all SPE members. Three of the live virtual presenters will be speaking on topics in the health, safety, environment, and sustainability (HSES) discipline. Each year, SPE selects industry experts, nominated by their peers, to share their knowledge and expertise at SPE section meetings. Despite the many challenges faced this season, SPE's Distinguished Lecturers gave more than 450 virtual presentations to members in more than 191 SPE sections countries around the world. Starting on 22 June, 22 presentations will be made available live virtually, broadening the audience from SPE section meetings to all of SPE's membership.
Distinguished Lecturer Program
SPE’s Distinguished Lecturer Program has flourished throughout its 50-year history, consistently receiving accolades from SPE members. Since 1961, more than 800 Distinguished Lecturers have traveled far and wide, many giving their presentations 30 or more times—the living embodiment of SPE’s mission as they disseminate technical knowledge concerning the exploration, development, and production of oil and gas resources, and related technologies at SPE section meetings. Twenty-one Distinguished Lecturers have also served as SPE presidents. Distinguished Lecturers continue to be a great draw for section programs, providing content that meets SPE member needs for substance and quality.
Not only are Distinguished Lecturers in constant demand, but SPE members are eager to serve as lecturers. “I feel a little guilty,” said Michael Byrne, global technical head, formation damage with Senergy and a Distinguished Lecturer during 2009–10, “because I thought this was a way to give something back to SPE, but in fact what I found was I got a lot more than I think I gave.”
Giovanni Da Prat, president of Da Prat Consulting and Distinguished Lecturer during 2003–04, echoed this sentiment: “I feel that I gained enormously from the experience of meeting people from other SPE sections, reflecting wells and reservoir conditions different than in my country.”
Participants often express that their presence in remote SPE sections fosters a sense of belonging to a worldwide technical community. “I believe the success of the program is that Distinguished Lecturers see themselves as ambassadors of SPE,” said Thomas Blasingame, professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University. “I also believe that Distinguished Lecturers try to bring a sense of being in the SPE family. Despite all my travels, I never felt alone or out of place.”
The First Decade
When SPE was established in 1957 as one of three semiautonomous societies within the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), its membership was 12,500. Over the next few years as it grew to almost 15,000 members SPE began to put more emphasis on the dissemination and exchange of industry-related experience and technical information. A key aspect of its maturation came from the desire of the SPE Board of Directors to secure excellent speakers for local SPE section meetings.