9 Reasons Why You Should Join SPE


Howdy y’all!

Yes, I am here again with another written masterpiece you all have been yearning for. In case you already miss me, you are welcome! But if you thought you were done with me now that I don’t go to USC any more, keep on dreaming! I am already possessed by the trojan spirit. 

Firstly, I want to congratulate our USC SPE trojan nation for claiming the first ever Outstanding Student Chapter Award, and I cannot wait for many more to come. As the 2017-2018 President, I want to publicly thank all of you for the great achievement. It wouldn’t have been done without your passion, involvement, and your attendance at our chapter’s activities during the past year. This is your win! This is your success! And don’t let anyone ever steal the glory and the spotlight from you! We are all WINNERS in this game. 

My presidential tenure was full of adventures, and turbulent ups and downs, but I cannot deny it was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I know many of you always have these conspicuous questions frequently crossing your minds: what does someone really benefit from joining SPE? Why do these people (E-Board) waste so much time, effort, and energy on a voluntary work like this? Is it really worth it? Let me list for you 9 reasons I benefited big time from getting largely involved with SPE, and believe me, they apply on you too:

1. You will discover your inner-self.

No matter how much you know about yourself, you still have a long way to go my friend. SPE can be one of the quick methods that will help you find this missing puzzle piece of your amazingly confused own self. Suddenly, you will start defining new goals, and also some strengths that you never knew you ever had before. You will learn how to deal with particular situations in a professional manner, be more organized, and discover what you are extremely good at. You will also get better at brainstorming, generating newly creative and innovative ideas, and developing overall self-awareness that should be your torchlight in the long term. 

2. You will enhance your social intelligence.

If you think the basic classroom routine and technical ability are enough for you to have the best job with that super-duper major oil company, you need to wake up from your coma, my friend! As Dr. Steve Cheung, one of my greatest mentors, told me before: “When you go to the workplace, the hardest skill you can learn is how to deal with people.” This is the most important thing and the game changer. It is never about how much knowledge you have about this specific topic, that software you can use like a piece of cake, or the 4.0 GPA that you have. It has always been, and I believe it will always be about how you can perfectly communicate with different kinds of people, from different nations, cultures, and colors, whether they are your bosses, managers, co-workers, or even random people you meet in your regular daily basis. SPE is absolutely one way to develop your interpersonal skills, intercultural communication, overall emotional intelligence, and also build a solid background that will definitely help you ace any of these behavioral-questions-interviews.

3. You will learn how to concord as part of a team.

No doubt about it, teamwork is such an essential skill all employers are looking for, especially if you want to embark on a career in engineering. SPE puts you in that position where you must learn how to accept advice, ideas, and other perspectives, while also providing your own. This all gives a great sense of how perfect teamwork should be.

4. You will make valuable connections.

Let’s be honest! The ultimate goal for all of us is to get employed, right? This is actually the main reason why many people rush to join SPE, or even contest for various leadership positions. Do you know why? Because of the networking opportunities it comes with. It is like a real-life simulation of LinkedIn. The oil industry all around the globe is like a one international gigantic family. Whether you are a university student, faculty member, or an industry professional, we are all connected in one way or another under the umbrella of this beautiful industry that keeps on amazing me and getting me smitten with the fascinating fact of how small this world is. If you have been in the industry for a long time, or you have been enrolled in a petroleum engineering program of two or more schools, while being a frequent attendee of international conferences such as the ATCE, which I personally call “the networking heaven”, you will by now know what I am exactly talking about. Only SPE can give you the opportunity to mingle with new students (potentially future co-workers), connect with recruiters and professionals, and people of same interests who also happen to belong to the same organization. All of which should help you establish good relationships and customize your own professional network that might eventually help you to land your dream job or internship. 

5. You will gain professional skills in a less formal environment. 

There is no wonder that getting involved with a society revolved around your major of study, such as SPE, does not only give you hands-on experience in project management, events planning, and fundraising, but also the chance to experiment them out in a secure environment where making mistakes is actually tolerated. Everyone is there to support one another, without the fear of the fingers that will be pointed out at you if something wrong happens. 

6. You will acquire leadership skills.

Being a leader in a professional student organization like SPE, will help you subconsciously improve your public speaking, boost your self-esteem, improve your ability to efficiently delegate tasks, become a better decision-maker, manage your time better, learn how to be patient, and also realize how to get best results with the limited resources you have. Your vision becomes instantly sharper, and you will find yourself leading a group of other motivated individuals, only because they trusted you, your vision, and that you are the only one who can safely lead them to the other side of the shore. Following you will be their own choice! 

Unfortunately, being a leader is always associated with the negative energy of haters and other opponents who will wish if they were in your position. Jealousy and envy will be your rivals’ best friends. As much as it hurts, but this world is like a roller-coaster and the passengers can either be genuine or be hypocrite and opportunistic, with no filtration as everyone goes for the ride. It takes only a true leader to recognize the rotten apples in his/her group, and snatch them out as early as possible, before they putrefy the remaining harvest. They will fight you, try to destroy you, seek to kill your energy, and push you to dive in the depths of your despair. True leaders don’t ever give up, and they fight until the end, and guess what? You will also learn all that at SPE because the real workplace will be pretty much the same, but even wilder, so be ready for it! This can be referred to by Mrs. Lori Dalrymple who is a SPE Distinguished Lecturer and also came to USC in April to teach 5 soft skills workshops to our chapter members. I remember she gave a really interesting name to this kind of leadership. She calls it “the dark side of leadership”

7. You will polish your résumé.

Being part of a professional organization, such as SPE, is always a great reflection on your résumé and a great indicator of your disciplined work-ethic, self-motivation, passion, and ability to handle multiple duties and responsibilities. SPE is simply that one activity you want on your résumé, in order to leave a great impression on the employer/recruiter, especially if you are targeting a job in the oil and gas industry.

8. You will give back to the community.

What is more beautiful and rewarding than serving your student organization, while simultaneously making a positive impact on the surrounding community. SPE teaches you through participation in community service events, charity drives, fundraisers, etc. that giving back to the community is not only good for the society, but also for any future business you become part of. It gives you and your company/organization the merit and that great reputable image in the eyes of other professionals both nationally and globally. All in all, it adds tremendous value to your learning experience and enhances your professional competencies. 

9. You will enjoy a great time. 

Last but not least, SPE gives you a constant opportunity to have fun through meeting new people and making new valuable friendships, while taking part in the chapter’s various activities, making the most value of your school experience. Taking a break from studies and the routine schoolwork by being involved with SPE is necessary and healthy for your mind. Imagine socializing with like-minded students, while being involved together in something really beneficial! And guess what? You will all learn from each other as much you would from basic academics. This is why I would like, from here, to thank SPE for giving me the chance to interact and connect with some of the brightest minds and intellectuals that I have ever met in my life, that I take huge pride in calling them “my friends”. 

Ahmed Mohamed

LinkedIn / Email


Takeaways from the SPE Annual Report and Salary Survey


5 Takeaways

Every year, SPE International releases several reports using data from it’s professional and student members. So, I want to give you all a few key takeaways from the report on where our industry currently is and where it’s going.

1. Increased Regional Diversity

A good way to gauge the direction of an industry is to compare the demographics of current professionals with those of students. Among current professional members, North Americans dominate the field, composing a full 43% of SPE professionals, with membership from the Middle East/South Asia, Asia Pacific, and Europe trailing far behind at 16, 15, and 13%, respectively. Compare this to student members, where those from the Asian Pacific region lead at 28%, followed by North Americans, South Americans/Caribbeans, and Africans at 19, 16, and 11%, respectively. What these numbers show is a shift away from traditional sources of petroleum engineers, North America and the Middle East, in favor of developing markets, namely Asia and Africa. This shift is expected due to the rapid industrialization currently occurring in these regions, and it is important that our industry embrace this shift in demographics. There are huge untapped reserves, both in oil/gas and human capital, in these regions, and it is imperative that we as an industry look at these people and resources as the future of the industry.

2. Focus on the Youth

With a rapidly aging workforce, SPE is putting a heavy focus on getting millennials and Gen Z involved in the petroleum industry. One of the methods of doing this is through the Energy4me program, which seeks to attract talented students from high school all the way down to elementary school through interactive, hands on activities. Our chapter has utilized resources from this program in the past, and we hope to continue these efforts to inspire even more students in LA.

3. Pay is Up, Especially Among Women

After several years of falling pay, the average pay went up by about 6% this year to $151,000, still down from $156,000 in 2014 but up $8000 from 2016. Reservoir engineers led the pack in the US, pulling in an average of $198,000 annually. When looking at who received most of this new wealth, 57% of women saw their salary increase, compared to 48% of men. Despite this, a large gender gap still exists. There were nearly 20 times as many men as women in executive positions among those surveyed, and men in executive positions pulled in an average of $60,000 more per annum than their male counterparts.

4. Higher Degrees Remain Prevalent

Worldwide, 45% of respondents held a post-bachelor degree, similar to the previous three years. This number falls to 34% in North America, but is as high as 80% in some regions. The takeaway from this is that while a young professional can get by with just a bachelor's degree, in some circumstance it is beneficial to enter a graduate program.

5. My Take

As an industry, we are moving towards a forward thinking model that includes more women, young people, and those from all corners of the world. Our membership and programming reflects this increasing diversity and we look forward to continuing to develop the next generation of petroleum professionals.

Dylan Chennault

LinkedIn / Email


Global Natural Gas Market and the Future Petroleum Engineering



Only a few decades ago, natural gas was treated as a waste product in the oil fields of the world and most of associated natural gas was flared. Today, natural gas consumption is growing at a rate higher than oil and coal and every year more countries invest in natural gas infrastructure. Low prices, abundant supply, and lower emissions are the main drivers for natural gas demand. Natural gas demand market includes several industries such as power generation, refining and petrochemicals, transportation, and manufacturing. The complexity of the integrated natural gas supply chain results in several challenges to be solved by the future petroleum engineer. This article first introduces some of the emerging markets for natural gas in the near future, followed by brief introduction to two of the main areas in which petroleum engineering graduates would use their skills in the next decade within the natural gas industry. 


In the next decade, the industry will witness the shaping of new supply and demand markets for natural gas. Several major offshore discoveries, such as East African and East Mediterranean Sea discoveries, will create significant opportunities for natural gas infrastructure development. In the U.S., shale gas production will see continuous growth with increased production from the Marcellus and Utica plays. In the meantime, rapidly growing demand centers would shape in South and Southeast Asia. A combination of population growth, industrialization, and long term government energy security policies support strong and steady natural gas demand growth in countries such as India, China, and Indonesia. In the Middle East, the mismatched distribution of hydrocarbon resources, coupled with rapid domestic energy consumption growth, will likely result in co-existence of major exporters and importers of natural gas. In the decades ahead, oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will face natural gas deficit as Qatar continue to maintain significant LNG export capacity. The distance between major exporters and demand centers will result in a steady increase in global LNG trade. According to IEA, by 2040 more than 60% of global natural gas trade will be dominated by LNG. 


According to IEA, due to widespread utilization of digital technologies, technically recoverable hydrocarbon resource recovery could be increased by around 5%, with the highest potential in unconventional gas resources up to a 15% increase. Technologies such as subsurface real-time visualization, big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, control process automation, and autonomous operations are among the tools which are currently used by some IOCs in upstream projects and promise the greatest improvements for the future. One particular area in which digitalization could help operators increase efficiency, includes coupling AI with advanced sensing equipment and data management algorithms. Such tools would be even more useful in the development of tight oil and shale gas resource based on the different life cycle of such projects. The nature of unconventional plays, and their rapid decline rates, require frequent drilling of new horizontal wells to maintain production levels. The short production and investment life cycle in these type of assets provide the opportunity of accelerating the learning curve by using lessons learned from previous projects to make near real-time adjustments and improvement in both drilling and completion techniques.While in conventional natural gas fields, recovery rates usually average above 90%, for most unconventional gas plays recovery factors are between 20-25% and digitalization of drilling and completion process could significantly increase these numbers.

In addition, as many of the giant fields of the world have already passed their half-life, implementing Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques would play an important role in an increase of production from these mature fields. Natural gas is an essential part of the secondary and tertiary recovery processes and comprehensive understanding of the geology and fluid dynamics is key to successful EOR design. Data-driven modeling can help generate hundreds of scenarios to improve the EOR screening process and recommend best practices. Needless to say, for the future petroleum engineer, in order to keep up with the current trend of oil and gas digitalization , it is mandatory to develop a series of digital skills in his/her repertoire. These skills include familiarity with most recent advancements in automation and robotics, data science techniques, computer sciences, data managements, etc. The above mentioned digital skills will soon be part of a petroleum engineer’s daily tasks. 


As previously mentioned, the natural gas supply chain is integrated with several other industries, such as power generation and transportation. Therefore, the issue of safety and security becomes of great importance for the sustainability of the natural gas industry. Despite the fact that California remains at the forefront of industrial safety and environmental protection, they witnessed one of the worst natural gas related environmental disasters in the 2015 Aliso Canyon incident due to leakage from an underground storage facility. Proximity of the facility to residential neighborhoods resulted in massive evacuations in a state of emergency. Such incidents demonstrate the importance of inherently safe design practice in the oil and gas industry. With the increasing share of natural gas in the future energy mix, the need for more safe and secure infrastructure appears inevitable.

In the meantime, despite the above-mentioned benefits of digitalization, the oil and gas industry will face a set of new threats in the area of digital and cyber security. The energy industry has consistently been among the top targets of cyber-attacks within the past few years. Therefore, the future petroleum engineer must receive adequate and comprehensive  education in the area of cyber security before entering the industry as a young professional. 


In a 2017 article by Drillinginfo, it was discussed that within the next 5-7 years, nearly 50% of the current oil and gas industry employees would be retiring. This translates into a large demand for new talent in the industry. E&P companies will need a wide range of skilled engineers to tackle some of the most challenging tasks ever faced by the industry. Therefore, a meaningful collaboration between the industry and academia would significantly help prepare a generation of petroleum engineers who have received adequate training. In the past seven years, as a petroleum engineering graduate student at USC, I have been actively engaged in the dialogue between our program and the industry. I have witnessed continual transformation within the industry, as well as the necessary resulting modifications within academia. USC petroleum program has continuously developed a platform for its students to adapt to the changes within the industry. Several courses such as Petroleum Informatics, Cyber & Physical Security in the Oil and Gas Industry, and Natural Gas Engineering were devised in response to the undergoing digital transformation in the industry.

Cyrus Ashayeri

LinkedIn / Email