Who Are We, and Why Are We Here?


Bill Bowers

by Bill bowers, Exterran
2008-2009 SPE GCS Chairman


As we enter a new year of activities in the SPE Gulf Coast Section and I begin my term as Chair, I reflect on how and why I arrived at this particular point in this particular organization. I’m also considering the diversity of cultures, education, and work experiences, and the variety of wants and needs that our membership brings to the Section.

I grew up and attended university in a state without a single commercial oil or gas well. As a student of electrical engineering, I joined the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in search of networking and professional development opportunities. Nearing graduation, and with the dreaded “grey cube” looming, I interviewed and eventually took a job with a funny-sounding French company that sent engineers on the ocean in boats and helicopters on seemingly unbelievable adventures (they were!). IEEE no longer fit my circumstances, and I filled the gap with Society of Professional Well Log Analysts (SPWLA). Later in my career, I made the leap from downhole and reservoir services to surface production and processing facilities. SPWLA offered few benefits in this environment, and I set out to find a new professional organization that fit my new situation. I stumbled upon a workshop on processing technology hosted by the SPE GCS Projects, Facilities & Construction Study Group, and realized this was the answer to my problem.

I have since come to understand the amazing array of educational and social opportunities that SPE and the Gulf Coast Section offer. Whether your interest is computing and electronics, drilling, structural engineering, fluid dynamics, marine operations, environmental protection, oil and gas processing, recruiting and training, project management, project finance, business development, reservoir evaluation…there is a group within SPE that shares your interests and is ready to assist you with knowledge and contacts.

Mirroring Houston’s petroleum industry, the membership of the Section is both multicultural and multidisciplined. With members from six continents, the Section offers a tremendous opportunity to interact with people of many cultures. An informal survey of our members’ education indicates that roughly 34% of us are petroleum or natural gas engineers, another 33% are engineers in other disciplines, and 34% are not engineers (ranging from scientists to business school grads to lawyers to doctors of theology.) Depending on your perspective, we could be the Gulf Coast Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, or the Society of Engineers in Petroleum, or even the Society of People in Petroleum.

So, who am I, and why am I here? I’m a person who has made a satisfying career in the petroleum industry, and who has found SPE to be a valuable resource in that endeavor. I sit in this chair because I found that the more I put into SPE, the more it gave me in return.

Who are you, and why are you here?

We would really like to know how we can serve your interests with programs in the Gulf Coast Section. Most importantly, we encourage you to take the plunge and become active with a study group or committee in the Section. Based on my experience, the investment will be repaid with dividends.

For more information, please visit the www.spegcs.org.