And the winner is ...

Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton, the 2022 SPE Regional Data Science and Engineering Analytics Awardee, is pleased. But he misses his 15 minutes of fame, as well as a more public recognition of his (and other awardees') achievements.

I do not in general write about awards. The cynic in me regards them as having dubious merit when given to others. I naturally make an exception for the occasion when I myself am the recipient! I say occasional because the last and only previous award was my much appreciated PNEC Award handed to me back in 2006 in person by the late Phil Crouse.

I have since then attended quite a few awards ceremonies in the past, at the SEG and SPE notably. Both do a great and grand job of organizing the presentations at respectively the SEG Annual Convention and the SPE ATCE. When I applied for (sorry should say, ‘was nominated for’) an award earlier this year I fondly imagined myself walking proudly on stage to the sound of rousing music and possible even taking home a grand hard cover folder with the citations of my own and other awardees’ achievements. I say ‘fondly imagined’ because I did not really expect to get the award having been, over the years, more of a consumer of the output of the SPE/SEG/AAPG societies than a contributor. So I was pleased and indeed honored that, thanks to the best efforts of our local SPE section and support from some SPE luminaries I did receive the award, the 2022 Regional Data Science and Engineering Analytics Award. I was ready for the catwalk.

I was also keen to see how the SPE would be broadcasting the 2022 awards to the wider world (well at least to the membership). The award was made as ‘an acknowledgement of your outstanding contribution and significant accomplishments in this area at regional level’. OK, well we will just have to pass quickly by on my contribution to ‘data science’. The SPE has moved the award category goalposts around some in the last few years. This award used to be known as the ‘Management and Information Award’ which I would have preferred as nearer to my skill set such as it is. But wait a minute, what is this about ‘regional’? It turns out that instead of strutting my stuff at the ATCE, I have an invitation to the ‘Regional Section Officers Meeting’ in Bucharest next month. Now I am sure that Bucharest is a nice place, it may even be nicer than Houston. But a ‘Regional Section Officers’ meeting does not have the same ring to it as the ATCE.

At the time of the award I was informed that ‘as one of our prestigious award winners, your name will be listed on’. Great thought I. So I visited the SPE Awards website to see how these are recorded. I was surprised and disappointed to see that awardees, be they regional or international are just names on a list. There is no indication as to why they got the award, what significant achievements they made or what. I know, and you may know, what previous awardees like Jim Crompton, Reidar Bratvold, Donald Paul and David Archer’s achievements were. But for future generations they are all just names on a list. So I thought that I would use this opportunity of setting the record straight by publishing a citation: my own, naturally.

Technical achievements and contributions of the candidate

Neil McNaughton has successfully leveraged years of oil and gas industry experience and hands-on IT skills into his regular reporting and analysis of the current state of play in oil and gas IT. Oil IT Journal initially filled a wide gap in the industry’s knowledge base, that of upstream data management. With regular reporting from seminal industry conferences, almost all organized by commercial entities outside of the traditional learned societies, McNaughton brought the embryonic field of to a wider audience, at the same time, capturing, over the years, a body of knowledge that make Oil IT the journal of reference that it is today.

McNaughton has applied the same approach to the broader field of oil and gas information technology. Again, while reporting on innovations as manifested at the major industry conferences (SPE ATCE inter alia), McNaughton observed that key information to real-world practitioners is often overlooked by the ‘academic’ and ‘non-commercial’ constraints of the learned societies. This led to coverage of the major vendor conferences (SAP, Esri, OSIsoft/PI and others) and more ‘telling it as it is’ reporting from users of these major products in operating oil companies.

Oil IT Journal’s impact in the oil and gas industry can best be judged from the readers’ testimonials which cite Oil IT as “a great source of information, even months and years after publication”, Neil McNaughton’s “erudite, informed, and comprehensive coverage of everything related to data and IT solutions in the upstream arena,” as providing “a deep insight into the E&P industry and a clear understanding of the technical and commercial challenges we face,” and finally “Oil IT Journal has no equivalent in the field of technology watch. The publication captures different viewpoints, quotes and provides a critical analysis that is rare in scientific journalism. Also Oil IT Journal’s content is at the crossroads of IT and upstream technology and is replete with information and the evolving standards landscape over the years.”

Many in the oil and gas industry pay lip service to the notion of ‘breaking down the silo walls’ between different disciplines. This has proved harder than realized, as ‘silos’ are baked into corporate structures and member organizations . However, information technology cuts across the silo boundaries. Through Oil IT Journal, Neil McNaughton has leveraged this realization over the years, expanding coverage across the full spectrum of the oil and gas vertical. Coverage today includes geoscience, engineering, process control, geographical information systems, standards and more. Oil IT Journal has also diligently reported on the energy transition with a ‘Going Green’ rubric that first appeared in 2010.

Well that’s just part of the citation. You can read the whole thing here.

And finally a big thanks to the SPE local section officers who managed the nomination process and to the kind SPE luminaries who backed me.

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