Q&A with Thomas Gouldie
- Tom Gouldie (Santos Ltd.) | John Donnelly (JPT Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 21
- 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.
When did SPE first come to Australia, and what was your involvement? SPE was established in Australia because of the passion of two individuals and the business needs of their companies. Bob Koch with Santos and Ray Hollis with Delhi Petroleum, both working in Adelaide, South Australia, had both been involved with SPE in other countries for many years before moving to Australia. In 1981, they also were both involved in a big expansion of onshore Australian operations, had recruited heavily overseas, and had brought in from 25 to 30 engineers during 1981 and 1982 to help with the work. Bob and Ray wanted their engineers to keep technically competent and up to date and saw the wide distribution of JPT, plus the opportunities for Distinguished Lecturers from overseas passing along knowledge, as a very good reason to start up a new SPE section in Australia.
In May 1982, they gathered 10 other existing but mainly new SPE members and submitted an application for the new Australian Section, which was approved by the SPE Board of Directors, with Bob becoming the first Section Chairperson from 1982 to 1983. Ray became Section Chairperson from 1984 to 1985, and then went on to become the first Asia Pacific Region Director from 1985 to 1987.
Following the startup of the Australian Section in Adelaide in 1982, five other sections were formed from 1983 to 1990 centered around the Australian cities of Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Darwin. The Australian Section was later renamed the South Australian Section.
What obstacles had to be overcome for SPE to catch on?
When I moved to Australia as a petroleum engineer in 1981, we had to write a very detailed account for the immigration department—to obtain a work visa—about what a petroleum engineer was and why it was different from, say, a mechanical engineer or chemical engineer. SPE had not yet been established in Australia, and there were no petroleum engineering schools or courses in the country.
After the SPE sections took hold across the country in the early to middle 1980s, the recognition factor for SPE grew. But there was still an ongoing need, which remains in part even today, to make known what SPE is, what it represents, why those in the upstream industry should get involved, and the particular focus and advantage that SPE has and gives.
What were your first experiences in SPE?
I attended my first petroleum engineering classes in 1971 at the University of Texas at Austin. During that year and the years following, operating companies such as Texaco, Sun, Getty, Amoco, and Standard Oil of California used to sponsor “chicken seminars”—where they served fried-chicken lunches for the students—tied to SPE student chapter meetings. These sessions certainly got the attention of the typically hungry students and helped to promote the companies to the students and faculty.
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