SPE Regional Section Officers Meeting

It was attended by representatives of the French, Italian, German, Croatian, Romanian, Polish and Hungarian Sections, as well as by the hosts, the VBS, representatives of two Student Chapters (Zagreb and Leoben), and by Blaine Horner, Staff Liaison Officer for SPE South, Central and Eastern Europe. Various topics were discussed, from questions like where does our industry go (particularly under the current oil price), and operational questions like community engagement, volunteerism and supporting students to questions like how can we reach out to new members and how one can benefit from the membership in SPE.

The session was started with an outlook of the oil price and its impact on the industry. The problems caused by the downturn are enormous, not only for the job situation, but also for organizations like SPE, who currently also suffer from reduced sponsoring, waived membership fees and a loss of members due to people leaving the industry. The key points that we will have to face in the future (and this is a particular challenge for us as the next generation), are a lower oil price for a longer period, where prices about 50$ will be the new normal (as opposed to prices over 80$ a few years back), Big Data and the implication of new technologies, transitioning towards the idea of the “Digital Oil Field”, and a new efficiency in all our operations, from fuel and energy efficiency to responsibly and sustainably dealing with the resources.

A key point was also volunteering, and the benefits of being in SPE: Not only is SPE an international network of upstream professionals, it is also the number one resource for knowledge and technology, be it PetroWiki, OnePetro, the various SPE Textbooks or be it conferences, where we reach out to the oil and gas community in order to disseminate knowledge and technology. As a non-profit organization, SPE relies on member contribution; hence it was a key question to see how the various sections approach their members to make the step ahead, and becoming actively involved in their local SPE branch. While the approaches may be different from section to section, the most significant differences are probably between the philosophies of the professional Sections and the Student Chapters, who find social media their natural habitat, thus using their capabilities more to the limit. Also, they seem to be more open to events that are not strictly technical events but focus more on having fun networking and getting to know new people.

It was also interesting to see how different sections reach out to their younger members, supporting students and young professionals. For example, students at IFP School in France have created an exciting and interesting game called “Reservoir Box”, which was supported by French Section of SPE. In this game, the participants experience the whole lot of problems a company in the E&P business faces, from making technical and financial decisions to dealing with unexpected situations, and most of working in teams and as teams. A link to the very interesting video can be found on the LinkedIn page of SPE France. Representative of the German Section Caroline Kannwischer talked about their take on integrating young professionals, a seemingly difficult task in Germany, where the industry is distributed over the whole country. This is something, where also the Vienna Basin Section has experience in, since it comprises Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, reaching even across 3 countries with three different languages – not to mention the Upper Austrian field office of RAG in Gampern! Despite geographical inconveniences, they are involved in organizing workshops, conferences and even do visits in the major oil towns in order to recruit people and supporting young professionals, and arranging socializing events.

Furthermore, the SPE German Section cooperates with oil companies in order to improve the training of the new generation in the industry, enabling their successful transition from academia to their companies.

The representatives of SPE France presenting their section, talking about cooperation with other organizations. Photo Credit: Daniel Hirschl

After lunch, a brainstorming session took place, focusing on the topics “Supporting Members Through a Downturn”, Volunteers, and Social Media. Burning matters to which no unique solution exists, but SPE takes all the input seriously, and working on an improvement to satisfy the needs of their members.

After nearly eight hours of presentations, discussion, brainstorming and small talk, a very fruitful and interesting meeting ended. Thank you to all the participants, not only for participating, but also for traveling to Vienna for this occasion; thank you also for the VBS to organize the meeting and OMV for providing the meeting room and its infrastructure in their head office!

SPE Vienna Basin Section Geological Excursion & 25th Anniversary

On September 15th, about 25 members of the SPE Vienna Basin Section (VBS) gathered in the beautiful Viennese suburb Sievering for a geological excursion. Among them people of all generations, from student members (4 students of the SPE Student Chapter Leoben) over many professionals and young professionals to those who already enjoy their well-deserved retirement.

The destination of the excursion was a quarry nearby, which back in its days of glory was the origin of the building material of many buildings in Vienna. Our tour guides on this journey not only uphill, but also back in time were Hans Egger and Godfrid Wessely, two very experienced geologists who know the Vienna Basin like the back side of their hands. Under their expert guidance the group proceeded uphill, with short stops to give an introduction to how the basin was formed, knowledge which seemed to be present in all our heads from our studies and working experience, but not to the detail to which Mr Egger and Mr Wessely explained it to us in very simply and easy-to-understand words. They also showed the group paleo maps of Austria to better understand the greater context of what we were about to see.

The excursion soon left the main road, moving steeply uphill towards the old quarry; arriving there, an amazing and very impressive geological feature came into our view: Turbiditic sequences (Bouma Sequences), submarine avalanches which we learned in that excursion have some astonishing properties, such as their speed (these suspension of sediment particles move at an amazingly high speed), their extension of up to several hundreds of kilometers and their sedimentation rate. Turbidites can settle within a few seconds, but it can also be a process of hundreds or even thousands of years, as the ones that could be seen during our excursion.

The destination of the geological excursion, a turbidite sequence, evidence that some million years ago Vienna was covered by an ocean

Not only this amazing geological feature made the VBS geological excursion worthwhile; also the insight in the formation of the Vienna Basin and its extremely fast subsidence as well as the relevance of the geological setting for the formation and production of hydrocarbons were explained nicely and even understandable for us engineers. Furthermore, we were shown some small-scale sedimentary structures, such as the evidence of life – again something most of us remembered from university but hardly anyone has ever really noticed in real life.

All in all, the geological excursion was indeed very interesting. A huge thank you to the SPE VBS for organizing this event, and to our guides, Hans Egger and Godfrid Wessely.


After the geological excursion, we gathered again, after just a few minutes’ walk through the picturesque vineyards of northern Vienna, at Weinhof Zimmermann, a Viennese Heurigen, where more participants of the 25th anniversary celebration of the VBS waited for our arrival.

While waiting for the official program to start, the guests had the opportunity to meet old friends, colleagues, professors even, and to get to know new people, not only from the local SPE Section, but also from all over Europe – representatives of the SPE sections in Italy, France, Germany, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Croatia also joined the anniversary – or simply enjoy the breathtaking view of Vienna over a glass of wine. SPE Regional Director for South, Central and Eastern Europe, Matthias Meister attended the celebrations as well, not only because of the Regional Section Officers Meeting the next day, but also to honor a number of people and organizations for their contribution to the SPE Community.

Before dinner, a buffet with a rich selection of famous Austrian food, the celebration started with current Chairperson Andrea Payer-Moser honoring the founding members of the Vienna Basin Section, Prof. em. Brigitte Weinhardt, Prof. em. Gerhard Ruthammer and Prof. em. Zoltan Heinemann as well as the past chairpersons Gerhard Ruthammer, Klaus Potsch, Viktoria Wäger and Reinhard Pongratz, thanking them for their commitment to SPE, and handing over certificates of appreciation and an illustration by Klaus Potsch.

The past chairs also took the opportunity to talk about their experience in SPE, and some anecdotes about their time in SPE VBS (e.g. Gerhard Ruthammer said: “I joined SPE to polish my English, but they told me ‘Your English is Polish enough!’”).

The Leoben Students at the 25th Anniversary of the Vienna Basin Section Photo Credit: SPE VBS

After dinner the SPE Awards Ceremony took place –, where Matthias Meister honored several persons and organizations for their commitment to SPE and the industry:

Regional Awards:

  • OMV Petrom received an award for their support in organizing events for the SPE Romanian Section
  • The University of Lorraine was honored with the Regional Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculties
  • Jean-Marc Dumas, past chairman of the SPE France Section received the SPE Distinguished Membership Award
  • Klaus Potsch was honored with the Regional Service Award

International Awards Wards were handed over to

  • Georg Mittermeir has won the Cedric K. Ferguson Medal for his excellent research and publications on reservoir engineering topics, for which only researcher under the age of 35 are considered – which clearly shows that SPE cares very much about the young generation, the future of our industry.SPE Croatian Section (President’s Award for Section Excellence)
  • SPE Vienna Basin Section (2016 SPE Gold Standard Section)
  • Mining University of Leoben SPE Student Chapter (2016 SPE Gold Standard Student Chapter)

On this occasion, we would like to take a moment to congratulate every awardee, and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to SPE in the last year, making these great achievements possible. To many more successful years with the SPE VBS and the SC Leoben!