Canada Region Welcomes New Sections

The Canadian region of SPE is growing with the addition of two new sections to its membership.

Grande Prairie and Vancouver members have petitioned for their own self-governed unit, allowing individuals in those areas to organize regional activities and better benefit from SPE programs.

“It provides a framework for holding local events to benefit people in the industry,” said Melissa Schultea, former Senior Manager, Canadian Activities at SPE in Calgary. “It brings in tangible resources to the people in those areas. It’s what sets us apart from lots of other associations.”

Industry in the area and the number of people who would benefit from having more direct access to SPE are what determines the need for a section in a particular location. From there, a minimum of 25 individuals sign a petition for the cause.

The two new sections have been in the works for some time. Although the planning behind Grande Prairie forming was spurred on only about a year ago, Vancouver members have been attempting to have a section defined since 2009.

The Vancouver section was formally launched on November 24 in Victoria, B.C. The initial meeting was attended by SPE representatives and new section officers, consisting of 11 section leaders, including five members from Vancouver.

“We are still setting up the ground rules, team dynamics, and logistics,” said Marcel Guevara, EP Management Systems and Project Delivery Group Lead Environment, BC/Yukon District at AECOM and secretary of the Vancouver section. 

The section consists of the lower mainland of B.C. and Vancouver Island.  It was driven by the interest in liquefied natural gas and the movement of several operators (e.g., Chevron and Petronas) to open offices in Vancouver.  

“With the critical mass of government and regulatory agencies in Victoria, long-time SPE members, retirees, or part-time consultants in Victoria and Vancouver, small and large operating companies in Vancouver, and engineering firms in the PF&C discipline, a section was easily established,” Darcy Spady, Regional Director—SPE International Board said. “We have a strong and varied membership that will definitely have the strongest proportional PF&C focus in Canada.”

The section is currently planning its first social gathering to present the unit to local members later this month. The section is also initiating contacts with the University of British Columbia chapter to join efforts and identify activities that can be conducted together. 

“As a very diverse group, we are still trying to identify and validate with our members the areas where the section will be focusing,” Guevara added.

The Grande Prairie section consists of 47 members and according to its chair, the section is growing strong.

“We are still a young section and slowly getting things moving forward, getting our name out there,” said Blair Fisher, section chair and Group Leader Field Engineering at Sanjel Corporation. “Grande Prairie is a unique area of the oil patch and we need to figure out what is going to work here, and what style of events/courses appeal to our membership.”

Although called the Grande Prairie section, it encompasses the entire Peace Region, including Fort St. John, B.C., and all the way to Grimshaw, Alberta.

“This section was formed on the request of some young professionals that were transferred to the GP region by their companies,” said Spady. “The section was started largely by young members who wanted technical meetings and training, as well as a vehicle to get professional development hours without going to Edmonton or Calgary.”

The section has held a few events thus far, and hope more will attend its Distinguished Lecturer Program (DLP) and a training course in March. 

One of the main perks of having a section in your area is the access to SPE’s renowned DLP.

Fulfilling SPE’s mission statement to dispense technical information to members, lecturers and their topics are highly sought after by sections hosting the speakers. There are approximately 28 to 34 lecturers every year that travel to 190 sections, giving each section three lectures a tour season for a total of 570 lecture visits. The lecturers travel approximately 1.4 million miles a lecture season. SPE covers all the expenses for the lecturer’s travel. This key program has been offered internationally since 1961.

Also provided are presentations via the DLOnline webevent program. Live presentations are made every month and then archived. SPE is currently accepting nominations for the 2016-17 lecture season
As the Vancouver section was created after the 2014-2015 DLP tours were organized, the section is coordinating efforts with SPE and other nearby sections to accommodate at least one lecture in Vancouver and a potential training session in Victoria, both in the second quarter of 2015. 

Other new sections currently in development are Estevan/Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

SPE’s STAR Scholarship and Fellowship Awards Make a Difference

A great way to see SPE working in our industry is to check in with past members who have benefitted from one of the many programs offered. This year’s STAR scholarships and fellowships nominations deadline is coming up in Mid-April, so what better time to check in on one of SPE’s past recipients.

The STAR scholarships and fellowships support those pursuing degrees related to the oil and gas industry until completion of the degree for which awarded, up to a maximum of 4 years. Since 2009, SPE has dedicated more than $1 million awarded by its 16 regions.

Allison Yuen is a 2011 recipient of the STAR Scholarship, and encourages students to apply for the STAR Scholarship and Fellowship Awards. She was heavily involved in the University of Calgary SPE student chapter at the time and first heard about the STAR scholarship through the chapter.  

“It was a scholarship that directly lined up with what I was interested in pursuing for a career and reflected my choice of student clubs,” said Yuen, who is currently working as a production engineer in Shell Canada Limited.  “I felt that my extracurricular activities involving the energy industry were a good match for the STAR scholarship program.”

Today, her role is to support the Groundbirch shale-gas asset and focus on optimizing production from gas wells.
The SPE International Board began the program as a commitment to education and a way to drive students to science degrees in order to pursue careers in the energy and petroleum industry. The nominees are reviewed and scored by a regional committee that is organized by the regional director. This committee consists of faculty members, and professional members from each section in the region.  

Canada awards one scholarship of $5,000/year for up to 4 years and one fellowship of $10,000/year for up to 4 years.
To learn more about the STAR program, please visit, or call the Calgary office at 403-930-5454.